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Manu'a schools open, no reported cases of pink eye

The Department of Health has recommended to airlines and inter-island ferries to urge the public not to travel off-island if they have pink eye, which has prompted the continued closure of all public schools on Tutuila, while schools in Manu’a have remained open, as they have no confirmed cases of pink eye in the island group.


DoH further recommends that the airlines and inter island ferries do not board anyone with symptoms of pink eye — red and irritated eyes — according to DOH information provided to Samoa News on Monday.


Last week Hawaiian Airlines denied boarding for passengers bound for Honolulu with symptoms of pink eye, while officials at Polynesian Airlines and Inter Island Airways say they cannot deny boarding passengers with pink eye without an “official order” from the governments of American Samoa and Samoa.


“It's very very difficult to explain to a Samoan elderly passenger, or any Samoan passenger, that they cannot travel because he/she has symptoms of pink eye, unless the airline has an official government order, to back up the denied boarding,” local Polynesian station manager, Toe Loia said told Samoa News Tuesday night.


Loia also said that when the pink eye breakout was reported in Apia, last month, his office was approached by a DoH senior official at the airport, about denying boarding of passengers with pink eye, but the official was told that there needs to be “an official order in writing”.




Meanwhile DoH said — in new information sheets released Tuesday afternoon — that Manu’a still remains without a confirmed case of pink eye and asked residents there not to travel to Tutuila unless it’s urgent business.


Instructions were also given to DoH officials in Manu’a to take necessary precautions to ensure that pink eye is contained, and if a case is confirmed to report such case to DoH immediately.


DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau told Samoa News early Tuesday evening that school closure only covers schools on Tutuila, while schools in Manu’a will remain open.


An official with Manu’a High School, when contacted by phone yesterday morning, confirmed that all Manu’a schools are open and classes are ongoing. The official says they are still safe from the pink eye and “hope it stays this way”.


However, Samoa News should point out that a hugh funeral is taking place in Manu’a over the next couple of days, and a large group of people from Tutuila are scheduled to depart for the Manu’a Islands, some leaving yesterday — with the majority beginning to leave today. Whether this will affect Manu’a’s ‘no pink eye’ statistics, remains to be seen.


Speaking on KVZK-TV, Tuesday night, Health Department’s medical director Dr. Joseph Tufa says the pink eye epidemic appears to have reached its peak and is starting to decline. But, he says the community should continue to practice good hygiene, which includes frequent hand washing and remembering to use hand sanitizers.


When schools on Tutuila resume next Monday, classes will only be in session up to Wednesday, because Thursday is a holiday for the 2014 Flag Day and Friday is another government holiday— Good Friday.


Catholic schools will continue to be out for the rest of next week, as is usual — due to the observance of Holy Week, which culminates with Easter Sunday.