Frontline flight workers negative for coronavirus

A total of 173 frontline workers who serviced a repatriation flight that landed in Apia from Auckland on 13 November have tested negative for COVID-19, the Government confirmed on Tuesday. 

The November 13 flight brought home 274 Samoan citizens from Auckland.

But two passengers returned positive COVID-19 tests after entering quarantine. 

Days after causing national anxiety about the possibility that the virus had reached Samoa’s shores, both of the men who had returned positive tests were found to have “historical” cases of the disease, meaning they were no longer contagious but could return positive tests. 

The Government in a statement through its press secretariat confirmed the negative results of the workers late on Tuesday. 

Leading the frontline staff at the Faleolo International Airport during the repatriation flight’s arrival were the National Emergency Operation Centre’s Chairman Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo and the Director General of Health, Leausa Take Naseri.

Agafili welcomed the results with gratitude.

“We praise the Name of Jesus Christ for these wonderful results, for He has been our impenetrable shield and stronghold throughout our seemingly endless battle against this virus,” he said.

“These are the sons and daughters of Samoa who have wholeheartedly dedicated their lives to serve our country with courage, and meticulousness at our borders, in the midst of our war against this invisible enemy.

“They are at risk every time they are called upon to process the flights since the declaration of the State of Emergency for COVID 19 in March this year.

“It is almost 10 months ago since this campaign began, and 15 repatriation flights have arrived in Samoa’. They work so hard for the country. God bless them.”

To date the two passengers who had historical cases of the virus are being managed closely at an isolation centre at Motootua Hospital and displaying no symptoms of the virus, according to the statement.

The 274 passengers, who are now in their third week of quarantine, will all be tested again before the end of the week. 

The National Emergency Operation Centre confirmed that conclusive blood testing conducted in New Zealand confirmed one man was first infected with COVID-19 in May, while the second had the virus in August.

Neither passenger’s level of the virus posed a threat of transmission to the community. 

The frontline team of personnel who tested negative was composed of workers from the Ministry of Health (52), the Samoa Airport Authority (30), Samoa Airways (25), the National Emergency Operation Centre (20), the Ministry of Police and Prisons (17), Immigration, (the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet) (12), Aircraft Cleaners (7), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries quarantine division (6) and the customs division of the Ministry of Customs and Revenue. 

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