Offices, business exempt from lockdown
Businesses and Government offices will remain open next Friday when the nation goes through a follow-up mass vaccination drive for COVID-19.
Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa told the media in her weekly press conference on Friday that unlike the measles and the first COVID-19 lockdown, the second mass vaccination drive will exempt public offices as well as businesses.
This follows Cabinet’s decision to approve a recommendation from the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) for another nationwide vaccine drive to boost Samoa's national vaccine coverage.
Data released by the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) on vaccination shows 95 per cent (115,856) of the eligible population have received their first dose and 70.5 per cent (86,243) have been fully vaccinated.
For the Pfizer vaccine targeting teenagers 12-17 years of age, a total of 21,402 members of the eligible population have received the first dose and only three are fully vaccinated. Pregnant and lactating mothers are also eligible for the Pfizer shot.
Fiame said the Cabinet and N.E.O.C. are aware of the impact of a second lockdown on businesses after the two-day lockdown the previous month and during the measles outbreak.
She said because the majority of the population has been immunised the decision has been made that the follow-up vaccination drive will not result in the closure of public office and businesses.
The Government hopes to reach between 95-99 per cent vaccination coverage before it considers reopening Samoa's borders, though this will also be dependent on other countries' restrictions.
Fiame said reopening borders will help restore the local economy which has suffered due to pandemic and for returning citizens.
M.O.H. Director-General Leausa Dr. Take Naseri spoke about ongoing discussions of opening borders should the nation reach a 90 per cent vaccination coverage.
“We will then feel comfortable to slowly open our borders, this is where all of this is heading,” he said on the Ministry of Health national programme.
“Everything will change from where we are as a pandemic to an endemic…which refers to yes, we might have cases [sick people] but it will not be extreme where people will die and suffer severe complications.
“It will be just like the spread of a flu that will come and go.”
Leausa warned that everything will change if the delta variant goes through another mutation which could make the cases more complicated.
“We are praying it stays here at delta because a lot of our people have been vaccinated.”
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