Border between Samoas should remain closed - health officials

As the spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues globally, health officials in American Samoa have recommended keeping the borders closed with Samoa, even if the latter ends its State of Emergency or wishes to resume inter-island travel.

Samoa government's closed inter-Samoa flights under the original emergency declaration last month and remained closed under a new extension for 30-days.

American Samoa followed suit on 23 March.

During a briefing of cabinet members on Covid-19, the territory's health director Motusa Tuileama Nua, said the health department recommended a continuation of the closure of the Samoa and American Samoa route, even if Samoa lifted its ban on air service.

Motusa said this action would further protect the territory, which at this point had no Covid-19 cases.

He said the health department faced many challenges at this time, including that its medical and support staff were stretched beyond capacity, maintaining checks on home quarantine passengers as well as those housed in government facilities.

Another challenge was making sure the internet connection worked, so that medical personnel at quarantine sites were able to carry out their work remotely.

There was also the challenge of ensuring sufficient living supplies - such as cots, blankets, soap - for the quarantine facilities.

Church services suspended in American Samoa

Meanwhile all church services and religious gatherings in the US territory have been suspended indefinitely under new amendments to the territory's Covid-19 emergency declarations.

The chairperson of the coronavirus taskforce, Lulogologo Joseph Pereira, said the decision was taken in light of the escalated rate of coronavirus infections across the United States.

"The threat posed by the pandemic required drastic social distancing measures and churches are encouraged to continue worship services remotely via video conferencing technology," Lulogologo said.

There are currently no cases of Covid-19 in American Samoa which remains on Code Blue alert.