The list of countries that have kept the novel coronavirus pandemic from their borders has reduced by one more: Samoa has recorded its first positive test for Covid-19, writes Pacific editor Ben Doherty
In a national address broadcast on TV and radio across the country, prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi announced that a sailor, who had returned from New Zealand on a repatriation flight, tested positive in a quarantine facility in the capital Apia. He has since been moved to an isolation ward at the Tupua Tamasese Motootua hospital.
“We now have one case, and [Samoa] will also be added to the countries of the world that have the coronavirus,” the prime minister said.
“After four days [in quarantine] tests were conducted…. a sailor [tested positive] and he was immediately isolated.”
Malielegaoi called for calm.
“Let us keep the faith and wear masks and wash our hands as advised.”
Seventeen Samoan sailors, who had been stranded at overseas ports, arrived on the Friday flight and have been in quarantine with nearly 300 other returning passengers.
Officials have started the contact tracing process of those who had been in contact with the man.
Samoa has only recently acquired a PCR machine to test for coronavirus. Previously, samples had to be sent to New Zealand and Australia.
Samoa’s cabinet is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider further safety measures and potential restrictions, as well as to review the first repatriation flight from Los Angeles next week.
The Pacific is the least Covid-infected region on earth. The small and remote island nations and territories of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Norfolk island and Pitcairn island are believed to be still free of the virus.