Community transmission to determine lockdown
Community transmission of COVID-19 will force authorities to impose a lockdown but for now the country remains on Alert Level 1 after 10 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.
The National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) Chair Agafili Shem Leo told reporters in a press conference on Thursday that Samoa’s National COVID-19 Alert Levels remain valid and enforceable after the 10 positive cases.
Asked if the Alert Level will be reviewed after the 10 travellers, who flew in on a charter flight from Brisbane on Wednesday tested positive, he said the N.E.O.C. is monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to upgrade the country's alert levels if they detect community transmission.
He added that at this stage there is no lockdown and a lockdown is only triggered if the virus is confirmed to be out in the community.
“We are thankful that it is detected and is in the isolation sites but once it gets out then it will be difficult to contain,” said the N.E.O.C. Chair.
“If we have to go down in complete lockdown we will as required by the amber and red levels.
“But for now we are monitoring the situation and that advice [to Cabinet] will be done when it needs to be done.”
(However, appearing on the Soalepule programme on EFKS TV on Friday night, the Agricultural Minister, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt confirmed that more results came out positive on Friday evening to add 5 more cases for a total of 15 positive cases from the 73 passengers who flew into Samoa from Brisbane on Wednesday).
For Alert Level 1, the public is encouraged to take note of state of emergency (S.O.E.) restrictions, practise social and physical distancing, encourage basic hygiene, encourage wearing of face masks in public places, undertake periodic testing of frontline workers and enforce home isolation after exit from quarantine for an additional 7 days.
Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said the passengers on the Australian flight on Wednesday all submitted their tests before departure and were also tested upon arrival.
He said the infected passengers had negative test results prior to departure and it is possible they could have picked up the virus on their way to the airport or at the airport.
Strict health requirements for incoming passengers was also followed by the passengers that are undergoing the mandatory 21 days quarantine, added Leausa.
A repatriation flight from New Zealand scheduled for this Saturday has been cancelled and the Government is also planning to suspend future incoming flights from Australia due to concerns over rising cases of the Omicron variant.
According to the Samoa Government’s National COVID-19 Alert Levels, Level 1 is defined as “proceed carefully” when 1-6 confirmed cases are in managed isolation with the situation categorised “low risk”. Level 2 is defined as “extreme caution” and denotes 7-9 confirmed cases in managed isolation; suspected community transmission; and is categorised as moderate risk. And Level 3 is defined as “stay home, stay safe” and denotes over 10 cases in managed isolation; confirmed community transmission; and is categorised as high risk.
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