Authorities temporarily suspend repatriation flights from August 7
Severity: 3 (Moderate)
Source: Drum Cussac
08/06/2020 (Samoa) - Samoan authorities announced on Wednesday, August 5, that repatriation flights to the country will be suspended for at least three weeks after the last booked flight from Aucklandlands on Friday, August 7, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The decision comes following reports that the Samoan quarantine facilities are becoming overwhelmed.
The Samoan government has extended the nationwide state of emergency introduced in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, until August 30. Most measures and restrictions currently imposed will remain, however, authorities have announced an amendment to the regulation on social gatherings. According to media sources, ceremonies for the bestowal of matai titles will now be permitted to take place, so long as attendance is restricted to only 50 couples, with no local or overseas visitors, and social distancing measures are observed.
The Samoan government has relaxed a number of restrictions brought in to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under the new regulations, some gatherings including church services and village meetings are now allowed to have up to 50 attendees so long as a social distancing of 2m (6ft) is adhered to. Restaurants and entertainment venues have resumed operations at a limited capacity and following social distancing measures. Restaurants are also permitted to operate on Sundays between 12:00 (local time) and 22:00 for takeaway services only. Markets are allowed to reopen, although street vendors remain prohibited from selling on footpaths. Public transport, including bus and ferry services, also resumed a normal schedule apart from Sundays when no services operate. A ban on most gatherings and public activities remains in place on Sundays.
International passenger flights remain limited. Samoa has banned entry for all non-citizens and non-residents. Samoan citizens and residents are required to undergo testing for COVID-19 within five days prior to re-entering the country and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for passengers arriving from territories except American Samoa remains in effect. Flights have been suspended between Samoa and Australia, Tonga, Fiji, and American Samoa. Inter-island ferry services between Savai'i and Upolu remain suspended until further notice.
As of August 5, Samoa has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
* Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
* When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
* If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
Copyright © 2020 Drum Cussac
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