'Where are our leaders amid death toll': Member

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 12 April 2022, 8:36PM

An Opposition parliamentarian and a Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) executive has criticised what he describes as the absence of Government leadership amid a rising COVID-19 death toll. 

The M.P. for Faleata No.3 and Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) Secretary Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her Cabinet should "be present and upfront" to provide comfort and assurance to the people as the virus claimed more lives.

"In a time of crisis, our people need our leaders to address the nation and deliver some comfort to the families of those who have passed on, and some assurance to calm the country,” said the Opposition M.P. "In fact, we saw more of them before [the outbreak] than now, we are now in a time of crisis with a rapid increase in the number of transmissions and deaths.

“Yet we have no public announcement from the leaders and the people are left in a limbo of where things are."

Looking at how the governments in different parts of the region responded locally to the COVID-19 pandemic, Leala said in neighbouring countries such as American Samoa and New Zealand, leaders had schedules to keep the nation abreast of COVID-19 infections and how frontline workers were coping.

"I've seen the leaders of our neighbouring countries and the leaders have been present and upfront making announcements, updating the country with accurate information on a daily basis,” the Faleata No.3 M.P. said. "For American Samoa, the Governor fronted the media and announced to the country when they first recorded their COVID-19 death, even when they had their second and more. 

“That's the same for the other countries like New Zealand where they have an allocated time for announcing the updates on the pandemic. 

"But here we are with the number of fatalities increasing and our leaders are nowhere to be found. 

“They need to come forward and face the country, not only to give some assurance for our people during these uncertain and difficult times, but to comfort the families of those whose lives have been claimed by this disease.

"Why are they absent? What are they afraid of? Are they hiding? Where are our leaders?

“They need to step up and come forward as leaders of this country."

As a Member of Parliament, Leala said he is disappointed with his Government colleagues’ “lack of performance and professionalism”, which he said showed that they were not serious about tackling the pandemic.

“The people voted for them to lead and guide this nation into prosperity and during difficult times and situations, we look up to our leaders for guidance."

The Faleata No.3 M.P. also questioned the inconsistency in the Government’s circulation of COVID-19 daily infections, through the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) and the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.).

"We are hearing conflicting numbers because the Government is not forthcoming with accurate information,” he told this newspaper. “We were able to get daily updates despite coming out at odd hours but now with the situation getting worse it looks like they're avoiding addressing the seriousness of the issue at hand.

"Today is Tuesday the 12 of April, yet we have only just received figures for the period 8-10 April."

After three days of no updates on Samoa’s COVID-19 community case infections and the death toll, the Government Press Secretariat distributed a Situational Report after 4pm on Tuesday confirming two more deaths to increase the national death toll to nine (9).

The report quoting M.O.H. data reported 427 new community cases to push the country’s cumulative total to 4,092 as of 2pm Sunday 10 April 2022.


By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 12 April 2022, 8:36PM
Samoa Observer

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