COVID-19 pandemic in Samoa
|COVID-19 pandemic in Samoa|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||18 November 2020 (10 months, 4 weeks and 1 day ago)|
|Samoan Health Ministry's COVID-19 webpage|
|‡Suspected cases have not been confirmed by laboratory tests as being due to this strain, although some other strains may have been ruled out.|
The COVID-19 pandemic in Samoa is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached Samoa on 18 November 2020. Samoa has only official declared one confirmed case of COVID-19 to the WHO.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
Travel into Samoa has been increasingly restricted in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the country. Before entering the country, people must have spent at least 14 days in a country free of the virus, as well as complete a medical clearance. On 27 January 2020, the Government of Samoa ordered all travellers entering Samoa to fill in a Special Health Declaration form. The Government also required mainland Chinese travelers to self-isolate themselves for 14 days and discouraged travel to China or other countries affected by COVID-19 virus.
On 3 February 2020, four Samoan nationals (three students and a former student) were evacuated from Wuhan aboard a chartered Air New Zealand flight with assistance from New Zealand, Australia, and the Chinese authorities.
On 9 February, eight Samoan nationals travelling from India via Singapore and Fiji were denied entry into Samoa and sent back to Fiji. The Samoan authorities had designated Singapore a high risk country due to the surge in cases there. These Samoans were housed at a hotel in Nadi, Fiji and not allowed to return to Samoa until the next weekend.
On 22 February, Samoa banned all cruise ships from visiting the country. On 29 February, the government announced restrictions on air travel, with the frequency of international flights into Samoa being reduced from 2 March.
On 18 March, Samoa reported its first suspected case of the coronavirus, an individual who had traveled from New Zealand. Bodily samples from the person were taken to Melbourne for testing. The patient was placed into isolation at Apia's Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. Samples have been sent to Melbourne for testing, which can take 10-20 working days to return. In response, the Samoan Government required all travelers including Samoan citizens to undergo a medical checkup upon returning. On 20 March, Samoa declared a state of emergency, closing its borders to all but returning citizens.
On 21 March, the Samoan Health Ministry confirmed that eight suspected cases of the coronavirus were being tested. All of these individuals had a prior history of travel or contact with relatives who traveled abroad. On 22 March, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced that the first suspected case of COVID-19 had been cleared of the virus. While he confirmed that six of the eight suspected cases had tested negative for the coronavirus, they were still awaiting test results for the remaining two patients from New Zealand. That same day, Samoa also suspended air travel with Australia and restricted flights from New Zealand.
On 24 March, it was reported that a total of seven suspected cases of the coronavirus were awaiting testing in New Zealand.
On 25 March, Malielegaoi announced that individuals that did not adhere to the COVID-19 restriction will be fined. On 26 March, the Samoan Government introduced lockdown measures including banning fishing boats from entering Samoa and fining businesses that breached the quarantine. Only cargo ships carrying goods and petrol will be allowed to enter Samoa.
On 11 April, the Samoan Government passed a US$23.6 million relief package to help the country's hotel sector, which had been forced to lay-off 500 hotel workers by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. On 15 April, the Samoan Government eased some state of emergency restrictions including reopening inter-islander maritime travel and public transportation with restrictions on operating hours and passengers. Restaurants and markets were allowed to reopen with limited hours. However, social distancing rules and other emergency restrictions remained in force.
On 20 April, Radio New Zealand reported that nearly 300 had been arrested in Samoa for violating the "Covid-19 State of Emergency Orders", which came into force on 21 March. On 14 May, Malielegaoi ruled out the New Zealand Government's proposal for a "Pacific travel bubble" due to the unwillingness of Canberra and Wellington to test travelers and fears of a resurgence of the 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa.
On 10 June, Prime Minister Malielegaoi announced the relaxation of lockdown restrictions on religious services, street vendors, weddings, and village matai councils. Street vendors will only be allowed to sell fruits, vegetables, cooked food and certain textiles while selling on footpaths will remain prohibited. Churches must practise two-meters social distancing but major events such as church conferences and national meetings remain prohibited. The new State of Emergency rules also allowed weddings in hotels but limited the guest list to 50 people. Market activities, beach and river excursions are banned on Sunday. There remains a five-person limit on funerals, traditional title bestowals, birthdays, reunions, and opening ceremonies for building.
Following the detection of three new cases in American Samoa resulting from sea travel, Samoan authorities have launched an investigation into whether the three infected individuals had disembarked from their container ship Fesco Askold which had docked in Apia's port over the weekend.
On 18 November, Samoa confirmed its first potential case: a sailor who had returned from Auckland, New Zealand the previous week. The sailor had undergone managed isolation. He had tested positive the previous night but subsequently tested negative during a second test. He was cared for at an isolation ward in Tupua Tamasese Motootua Hospital. The sailor subsequently tested negative for COVID-19 during a third nasal swab test and remained under observation. He was part of a contingent of 27 Samoan sailors who had working with the Mediterranean Shipping Company in Europe. The sailors were part of a contingent of 247 passengers who had been repatriated to Samoa on a chartered Air New Zealand flight.
On 27 November, Samoa reported its second case in managed isolation, a 70-year-old man who had traveled from Melbourne and Auckland to Apia on the same flight as the first suspected case. It is possible both cases were simply detection of viral fragments from non-contagious historical cases as neither case had symptoms and their close contacts tested negative.
On 29 December, Samoa banned travellers from the United Kingdom and South Africa under a new amended travel advisory for repatriation flights. This in response to a discovery of variants of the coronavirus VOC 2020/12/01 and 501.V2 variant which appears to be more contagious than previous variants.
A third positive PCR test was returned on 12 February 2021.
On 24 March 2021, Dr Take Naseri, the Director-General of Health, confirmed that individuals 18 years old and over would receive the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. However, those aged 85 years and over and with terminal illnesses would not be vaccinated. Samoa had received 79,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses with the assistance of New Zealand.
In early May 2021, Dr Naseri confirmed that Samoa would reopen its borders once 98% of the population had been vaccinated. By 8 May, 10,911 individuals (roughly seven percent of the population) had been vaccinated. A further 55,000 vaccines were expected to reach Sama in June 2021. Samoan health authorities were in negotiation with New Zealand to procure more AstraZeneca vaccine doses.
On 11 August, Samoa Health authorities launched a country-wide door-to-door mass vaccination campaign. The National Emergency Operations Committee also announced that more than half of the eligible population had received their first dose and 22 percent had been fully vaccinated.
New cases per day
- Officially only 1 confirmed case, however there have been 3 separate individual who have returned positive PCR test results, possibly non-infectious historic cases.
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