After the fact, DoH releases requirements for repatriated residents
by Samoa News staff
In a public notice issued last Thursday afternoon, the local Health Department outlined documents required for clearance for local residents being repatriated from Samoa. And the repatriation is being carried out in three-phases, with the first one last week.
The notice, signed by Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua, has been met with criticism from family members of returning residents, who questioned why DoH waited until Thursday to announced all these requirements when repatriation flights began last Wednesday.
“Public health had all this time since [June 15th] to provide all this information in advance but waited until Thursday (June 18th) to tell the public,” said one local resident whose family member was among those on the repatriation flights on Wednesday from Apia, and only learned of the new requirements last Friday.
In the announcement DoH said its position “is to assure optimal safety and wellbeing of American Samoa” and outlined policies implemented for the repatriation of local residents stranded in Samoa since the inter-Samoa borders were closed about two months ago.
The repatriation plan now goes to Phase 2 with flights from Samoa from June 23 to 26 — while Phase 1 was last week — June 17 to 19. Phase 3 is set for June 30th.
DoH identified documents that are required for travel clearance, and this includes the ASD-DoH COVID-19 Health Clearance form to be completed by Samoa government’s Ministry of Health within 3-days prior to travel to American Samoa. This form must be stamped by the Ministry of Health and presented upon arrival in Pago Pago.
Other travel clearances:
• all travelers who are SYMPTOMATIC - i.e coughing, fever, difficulty breathing — upon arrival will be placed in “mandatory isolation”
• travelers must adhere to “mandatory COVID-19 testing” upon arrival and complete full 14-day quarantine as required by public health
• all travelers must provide passport verification of no travel history to other countries outside of Samoa in the last 60-days
• all travelers must hand carry necessary medications and ensure airlines bring their checked in luggage.
(DoH also advised Samoa citizens being returned back to Apia on the repatriation flights to obtain a health clearance from the Tafuna Community Health Center or Leone Clinic prior to departure for Samoa. Call ahead to set up an appointment.)
Upon arrival at Pago Pago International Airport all repatriated passengers are required to present the DoH travel declaration; and go through a screening process to assess the validity of the health clearance and perform a general examination to include temperature check. All arrivals will be transported to the government designated quarantine site.
Accepted items from family members for their quarantined relatives include toiletries, cell phones, required medication, snacks, towels, pillows and sufficient changes of clothes.
According to DoH, a medical team will be on site 24/7 to monitor each quarantine site while police will provide 24/7 security.
Not allowed at the quarantine sites are alcohol, illegal drugs and pets, according to DoH.
DoH gave a list of what repatriated residents should expect at quarantine sites. For example, a medial team on site will conduct daily health screenings as part of quarantine process and it’s important that quarantined individuals comply and advise the team if they are experiencing any illness. The key signs and symptoms of the virus are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The government will provided three meals a day including water, while families and relatives of the quarantined individuals will be responsible for any additional meals or snacks. And while quarantined individuals are allowed to walk around inside the facility compound, they will be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing protocol.
RETURNING CITIZENS OF SAMOA
The repatriation flights are allowed to uplift citizens of Samoa stranded in American Samoa and these individuals are asked to contact either Samoa Airways or Talofa Airways, which are conducting the flights.
Samoa’s Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, issued a June 18th advisory for travelers from American Samoa to Samoa:
• All travelers must have been residing in American Samoa for 14 consecutive days or more without history of travel outside of American Samoa
• All are required to complete the Health Declaration Card in flight or on arrival
• All are required to undergo medical examination by a Registered Medical Practitioner within (3) days before ARRIVAL.
• A COVID19 Test is essential but NOT required for boarding.
• All are required to present medical report for check-in and on arrival to health officers at port.
• Any Passengers with Flu Like Illness or Fever will be denied boarding.
• Failure to provide a valid medical report will result in denied ok boarding or entry denied and returns to last port where you boarded the flight.
• Returning passengers from American Samoa that meet ALL conditions are NOT required to undergo the 14 days mandatory quarantine.
The advisory states that all travelers coming from outside of American Samoa — Hawaii, US mainland, Asia etc. — must reside in American Samoa for 28-days or more before traveling to Samoa.
According to the amended Samoa virus declaration issued last week, these conditions/ requirements will change if American Samoa opens its borders with Hawaii.
As of last Friday, the governor had requested and Hawaiian Airlines has complied with keeping flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago suspended until July 31st, as the governor is concerned with the spike in virus cases in Hawaii and the US mainland.
As of last Friday afternoon, Hawaii health authorities recorded 27 “newly reported” cases, bringing the new total to 789, while the death total has remained at 17 for the past two months, according to the state’s online records.