Samoa to send Covid-19 positive swab samples to NZ for further tests

The Government is leaving no stone unturned in the case of a Samoan sailor whose swab results for Covid-19 returned negative less 24-hours after it was tested positive.

Samples of the swab results will be sent on a cargo flight to New Zealand today for more tests.

The sailor has been placed under strict isolation at the National Hospital since late Wednesday evening.

While authorities await results from New Zealand, the sailor will undergo another test in hospital on Saturday.

The two tests should confirm without a doubt whether the seafarer who returned last Friday from Italy where he had worked is the first official Covid-19 case recorded in Samoa, Director General of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said at a press conference last evening.

He reassured the media that all the precautionary and preventative protocols prescribed by the Government’s Covid preparedness and response plan were executed to the letter.

A statement said for instance, prior to departing Europe for Samoa via Auckland, documentation provided confirmed that he was tested negative along with a medical report, which also confirmed that he had no Covid symptoms before leaving Europe.

And when the flight arrived from Auckland Friday afternoon, all of the 274 Samoans including the sailor were tested at the airport without incident.

The tests are a new precautionary procedure executed because some of returning Samoans living in countries ranked as Covid-19 high risks. (For example, the Samoan seafarers returning home from Europe.)

However, five days while still in quarantine as mandated by the 14-day period before going home, the seafarer was diagnosed and tested positive Wednesday night but a follow up test to reconfirm his positive results less than 8 hours later Thursday morning came back negative.

“We have also made contacts with Italian officials for a background and profile check which includes his medical history while working in Italy,” added Leausa.

Leausa said that they have reviewed the local swab test procedures in case they may have missed or overlooked any critical detail and added that that the tests followed procedure minimizing any potential errors.

He added that health front line workers monitoring the sailor and his roommate from their quarantine accommodations are also in quarantine in the hospital compound at a separate building to ensure their safety and remove any contacts with family and the public while awaiting the test results.

At the Press Conference, NEOC’s Interim Chairman and Chief Executive Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo said that it is paramount for Government to take all the necessary actions to maintain Samoa’s safety from the virus.

“The tests reflects and reaffirms the Cabinets decree to do everything possible to protect the country,” said Agafili who is also Secretary to Cabinet.

To this effect, Cabinet has extended the State Of Emergency to 22 December and awaits the test results before making any amendments to the current SOE law.

“Schools will continue as usual but with the same token, we are urging parents, guardians and teachers to follow strict precautionary measures to protect our children at all costs,” advised Agafili reiterating an appeal by the Prime Minister for the country to remain calm and not to lose faith in the power of prayers.

Photo supplied Government of Samoa Media/Facebook Caption (L-R) Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri (left) with NEOC Interim Chairman and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo at a press conference