C.J. defends early quarantine release
Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese was released from isolation on Friday after seven days in quarantine an earlier-than-usual release that he defended on the ground that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’ve had all my shots and I am [as] fully immunised as I can be,” he told the Samoa Observer.
Satiu arrived in Samoa last week Friday the most recent repatriation flight from Auckland, New Zealand.
When approached outside of a local bank on Friday afternoon, Satiu said the country should not worry as he’s fully immunised against COVID-19.
Satiu downplayed criticisim about his limited quarantine time saying: “if there [were concerns] I wouldn’t come out.”
He went as far as forking out his immunisation card which proved that he had received his vaccinations.
Asked for comments regarding the perception of the public that he’s given “preferential treatment” due to his position as Chief Justice, but Satiu dismissed it immediately.
“There were other people too, that were released because they received full shots as well. You should speak to [Director General] Leausa [Dr. Take Naseri]. I think there are a few of us that came on this flight who have full vaccinations and so all of us, were allowed to come at some point,” said Satiu.
Typically returnees to Samoa from overseas locations must undergo three weeks' quarantine.
But in March the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, said incoming passengers could possibly side-step requirements if they provided certified proof of their vaccination on arrival.
Last week when the Chief Justice arrived at the Faleolo International Airport, while the passengers were loaded into the line of vans and buses, His Honour was transported in a Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) Toyota Prado.
Just months into his new role, the Chief Justice was hospitalised for “flu like symptoms” at the national hospital at Moto’otua in September last year and left Samoa the following month for treatment by a cardiologist.
His return had been prematurely forecast and delayed. But he's now arrived in time for the election petitions filed in the Supreme Court.
The Samoa Observer has contacted to the Interim Chairman of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Agafili Shem Leo and Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri for comments, however is yet to receive a response.
Questions sent via email to both are printed below verbatim.
Talofa Aagafili and Leausa,
Please seeking comments regarding the early release of the Chief Justice, Satiu from quarantine.
The Chief Justice said that he's allowed early release given he has already been "fully vaccinated".
Can you comment as to when this policy was implemented?
Why was this new policy not publicly announced like your office does each time there are new changes to the SOE?
How long does your office anticipate to implement this policy?
Is it just for the Chief Justice's flight this policy is applied to or this will continue on with future flights?
Any comments to members of the public perspective that this appears to be preferential treatment?
Please feel to address any issues you know is relevant.