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New Omicron subvariants detected in the territory

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COVID testing and treatment available at all DoH clinics

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The local Health Department issued a COVID health advisory late last week, confirming the presence in American Samoa of three Omicron subvariants.

“According to recent sequencing results, the Omicron subvariants BQ1.1, BQ1.1.24 and CH 1.1.3 are present in our territory,” DoH said in the advisory.

DoH reminds the community that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend wearing a mask when in public, and if you are infected to isolate from others, and inform your recent contacts to get tested.

Additionally, monitor your symptoms and seek emergency care immediately if you feel severely ill.

DoH explains that a person with this virus may experience flu-like symptoms, as well as common symptoms such as having a sore throat, fever. and chills.

“Getting vaccinated or boosted can significantly decrease severe illness. Improve ventilation in your home and isolate yourself from others until you are well,” according to the advisory in which DoH reminds the public that all of its community clinics “are able to test and treat for COVID-19 if you are feeling symptomatic.”

“If you are symptomatic but tested negative initially, it is recommended to perform a second rapid antigen test 48 hours later. As of the week of January.16-22, there were 5 active COVID cases in the community,” the advisory said.

The last known COVID-19 Situational Report issued by DoH covered the week of Dec. 19 to Dec. 25, 2022, with 13 positive cases. And there’s been no new updates from the COVID-19 Task Force on the pandemic since December as the community spread of the virus declined in the territory.

The task force announced in late December 2022, plans to close-out its work by the third week in January 2023 as COVID-19 emergency declarations ended on Dec. 01, 2022.

Samoa News understands that the final meeting of the task force — first established in early 2020 in the midst of the global outbreak during the Lolo Administration — had its last and final meeting last week Tuesday, with a final report to be released soon.

Meanwhile, the DoH advisory offers “Emergency Preparation” tips to help the community safely prepare, evacuate and shelter from severe storms while protecting yourself and others from COVID-19.

Helpful tips offered at this time during American Samoa’s hurricane season which runs through the end of April — includes paying attention to local guidelines about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including shelters for pets.

Furthermore, stay updated with your COVID-19 vaccines/boosters, which help prevent severe symptoms or becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

“Staying up to date on vaccines makes it less likely that you will be sick with COVID-19 while sheltering or evacuating from a hurricane; and less likely to need medical services while LBJ hospital is under strain from the natural disaster,” DoH advises the public.

Additionally, pay attention to the COVID-19 Community Level in your area and follow recommendations given by DOH and LBJ to stay safe.

Also recommended by DoH:

•           Take steps to protect your health and the health of others while preparing for the hurricane.

•           When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

•           Be prepared to protect your family's health and well-being until help arrives.

•           Have a strategy for staying healthy, informed, connected, and calm.

•           Work with others to improve preparedness, increase connectedness, and build resilience.