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Samoa remains virus-free — public urged to stop panic over rumors

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Source: RNZ Pacific

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa's Director General of Health says the country remains free of Covid-19 so the public shouldn't believe rumors to the contrary. Leausa Dr Take Naseri held his first Covid press conference since March on Tuesday and spent the time highlighting the government's work to prevent the virus from entering the country.

His comments came after public concern that a 27-year-old seasonal worker, who had returned from overseas, had died of Covid-19.

The worker had spent 14 days in quarantine and had earlier tests negative for the coroanvirus. Leausa said a post mortem would be done soon but it was likely the man had suffered from heart issues. He said people needed to be sensible.

"The local community as I said, we are still Covid-free, I don't think anyone will respond. It has now become a stigmatized disease. People are now reacting to Covid unnecessarily, they panic."

Meanwhile the director indicated Samoa was discussing with regional governments, the possibility of having a common Covid-19 tracing app.

Leausa said Samoa's government was not resting on its laurels.

He said it was is preparing a burial site for a potential outbreak, looking at further border restrictions and discussing more amendments to the State of Emergency declaration.

He added that, in light of the latest outbreak in New Zealand, it had proposed the tracing app. "Where we can trace, not just Samoa and New Zealand, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, because there is a lot of traffic between there.

"If they come from New Zealand, they can tell us, this guy, you can contact [trace], he's in our system."

Leausa said while the government was preparing for a possible outbreak, there was still no need to panic.


Samoa's government is trying to secure the services of a forensic pathologist to ascertain the cause of death of a 27-year old repatriated seasonal worker.

The man died almost a month after being released from quarantine.

The Director General of Health, Leausa Take Naseri, told TV1 Samoa there were forensic pathologists in Australia and New Zealand but most did not want to come to Samoa due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However Leausa claimed there was no connection between the coronavirus and the death of the man who had tested negative on the last day of a 14 day quarantine period.

The man was part of a group of seasonal workers who had been given compensation to isolate at Poutasi village in two large halls under supervision of the local matai council.

Meanwhile Leausa also said his ministry is trying to ration the use of Covid-19 tests as they await the arrival of more kits.

"We only have 2000 tests left," he said.

According to Leausa, there are currently some 300 repatriated Samoans from New Zealand and Fiji in isolation, who would be tested at the end of their quarantine period.

He said this was better than testing them at the beginning and saved on test kits which were being delayed due to lockdowns across the globe.

"At the moment we are getting about 100 test kits arriving almost weekly," he added.