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All passengers of 5th Repat flight to undergo quarantine upon arrival

Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale
Source: COVID-19 Task Force — Press Release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — There will be no immediate discharge of fully vaccinated passengers on the 5th repatriation flight that’s departing Honolulu and arriving on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 as initially planned. After further review of the discharge plan and the discovery of two new positive COVID-19 cases at the Hawaii quarantine site over the weekend, the COVID Task Force scrapped the idea of sending fully vaccinated passengers home.

The two new positive COVID cases were discovered during a swab testing on May 28th.

They are called “breakthrough cases” which is the term to describe a small percentage of those that are fully vaccinated and still get COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breakthrough cases are expected because no vaccine is 100% but there is evidence that COVID-19 vaccines make the illness less severe for those that get the virus.

The two breakthrough cases and two individuals who came in close contact with them have been referred to the Hawaii Department of Health and will not make the flight. At the meeting of the Task Force on Monday, May 31st, 2021, Chairman Lt. Governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale said the Task Force is not ready to do an immediate discharge of passengers upon arrival at the airport.

He explained that conducting the COVID test upon arrival takes at least 45 minutes to get the results and if the outcome is a positive test, then another test is needed to confirm the first test. But the latest discovery of two COVID positive cases involving vaccinated passengers resulted in the Department of Health recommending that for the safety and health reasons, all passengers must be quarantined for up to 7 days at the Tradewinds Hotel. This was supported by the Task Force.

Talauega, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative, told the Hawaii quarantine team led by DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua and Medicaid Director Sandra King-Young to make sure the passengers are made aware of the change as the fully vaccinated passengers traveling by themselves are expecting to be released upon arrival in American Samoa.

He said with the added quarantine here, the total quarantine time the passengers will undergo is almost a month. He said while he feels for them, the Task Force needs to be extra cautious considering the new COVID variants are affecting even the fully vaccinated people.

The total passenger count for the 5th repat is now at 212 and all will be quarantined at the Tradewinds Hotel.