Samoa considering a lockdown

Samoa is gearing up for a nationwide lockdown after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases off a flight from Brisbane, on Wednesday increased from 10 to 15.

Chairman of the ruling FAST Party and Minister of Agriculture, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt, revealed the increase in positive cases on television last night.

He gave no details on the five new passengers that have tested positive but said instead that he expected the National Emergency Operations Committee to make an announcement soon.

The Samoa Observer has said it understands Cabinet will hold an urgent meeting todayon Saturday to discuss a possible lockdown for the country.

According to a table on COVID-19 alert levels issued by the Ministry of Health, when there are 7-9 cases in managed isolation and community transmission is suspected, it is considered a moderate risk and the country should move to alert level 2.

Samoa has remained at alert level 1 despite confirming 10 positive cases on Thursday.

If Cabinet orders a step up to alert level 2 Samoans can expect increased monitoring of State of Emergency restrictions and border closures with the exception of aircrafts and ocean vessels approved by Cabinet.

Everyone in managed quarantine will be required to restart their isolation period and all front line and supportive workers will be quarantined.

The wearing of face masks will be mandated for the entire country and social distancing will be enforced in public places.

There may also be restrictions on inter island travel.

It is still not known what variant of the coronavirus has infected the passengers who were amongst a total of 73 passengers from Brisbane on Wednesday.

Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, told a press conference on Thursday that his office suspect it is the omicron variant which has been rampant in Brisbane.

He confirmed that all samples from the infected cases will be sent on the first available flight to New Zealand for testing.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour has confirmed that a scheduled charter flight to New Zealand for seasonal workers is still operating.

The Samoa Airport Authority has also warned that conditions will be enforced for those dropping off passengers and that only one person is allowed to drop off the passenger.