Samoa remains COVID 19 free to date – Government reassures

An aerial view of downtown Apia, Samoa.

APIA, SAMOA – 11 NOVEMBER 2020: The Government has assured that Samoa remains COVID 19 free to date, following three (3) positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in American Samoa of the crew members of the container ship Fesco Askold that docked at the Apia wharf 8 November and arrived in American Samoa 9 November.

A Government press statement last night said the National Emergency Operations Centre through effective coordination of border agencies continues to work tirelessly to safeguard Samoa in these difficult times.

According to the Samoan government, “the matter was relayed immediately to the Director General of the Ministry of Health – Leausa Samau Dr Take Naseri by American Samoa’s Epidemiologist at the Department of Health – Aifili Tufa through a telephone conversation last night.

“The Fesco Askold began its sail from California, docked in Tahiti, before it set sail south and arrived in Samoa on Sunday, 8th November. The ship left early in the morning of Monday 9th November for American Samoa.

“Fesco docked at Matautu less than 24 hours. The process at Matautu is well coordinated and controlled when any vessel is authorized to enter the wharf. The process is strictly co-managed by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Police, Customs, Quarantine, Immigration and the Samoa Port Authority. The ship – Fesco Askold went through this highly controlled process.

“As has been from the beginning of the Proclamation of the State of Emergency for COVID 19, all vessels requesting to enter Samoa are required to have valid medical clearance(s) for all crew members, with negative COVID 19 test results, and reports from the last point of departure. These documents are meticulously assessed by Samoa’s health officials at the quarantine buoy, about a mile away from Matautu wharf. A ship could only be granted authorization to enter / dock at Matautu Wharf only if it has satisfied these health requirements,” the statement said.

“All crew members including the ship’s captain are required to isolate in a designated room on board the ship, while the health assessment is being conducted. Upon satisfaction of Samoa’s health requirements, a designated pilot from the Samoa Port Authority would sail the ship into the Matautu wharf.”

“The area on the wharf where the ship is docked is sealed off and the Police guard is always on site to make sure that no one of the crew members comes on land. Stevedoring service is also closely monitored to avoid any contact with the crew.

“These procedures were strictly followed in the assessment of Fesco Askold. All frontline officials were fully protected with personal protection equipment (PPE), masks, and gloves in the performance of their prescribed duties at the wharf.  Containers offloaded from this ship were sterilized. This joint operation has been undertaken carefully to make sure that Samoa is safe and protected from the COVID 19.

“The country is hereby assured that Samoa remains COVID 19 free to date, and the National Emergency Operations Centre through effective coordination of border agencies continues to work tirelessly to safeguard Samoa in these difficult times.

“In fortifying our national efforts to protect Samoa, the frontline officials who serviced Fesco Askold are now placed in a controlled isolation. This is part of health precautionary measures. They will be tested over the next five (5) days for COVID 19. To date, they all remain healthy and well,” the press statement ended.

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