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Update: Five new imported COVID cases detected from Nov. 18 flight

Dr. Fiona Trail
CDC issues alert on new variant first discovered in S. Africa

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Five passengers on the Nov. 18 flight from Honolulu tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and they, along with their close-contact family members who traveled with them, are now in isolation for 14-days, says Health Department’s Dr. Fiona Trail during a news conference Friday.

With these new positives, American Samoa has now recorded 10 imported COVID-19 cases all of them infected passengers arriving on Hawaiian Airlines flights since commercial air service resumed between Honolulu and Pago Pago in early September this year.

Speaking at the news conference, Dr. Trail — who oversees quarantine sites — gave an update on the Nov. 18 flight from Honolulu with 282 travelers who were housed at the usual three quarantine sites — Tradewinds Hotel, Fatuoaiga and Sadie’s by the Sea hotel.

As per COVID-19 Task Force policy, the travelers underwent quarantine for 7-days and all of them received three COVID-19 tests at the quarantine sites, she explained, noting that everyone remains well, healthy and in good spirits.

Regarding the results of the tests, Dr. Trial announced that “we were able to identify five new positive cases and four ‘historical’ cases. The five new cases and their families were transferred to the isolation facility for an additional 14-days.”

She explained that the five new positives along with their family members, who traveled with them — totaling 16 people — are in the DoH isolation facility.

Additionally, the five new positive cases “are stable, remain asymptomatic — that is they have not developed any signs of symptoms of COVID-19 — [and] they’re fully vaccinated and are doing well at the isolation site.”

Dr. Trail also shared that DoH “gave booster doses at the quarantine facility” to the travelers “due to the high demand from the travelers and also administered vaccinations to 5-11 year olds.”

“Everyone was monitored overnight, and no one developed any adverse reaction from the vaccine including the children who got vaccinated,” she said, and noted that the rest of the travelers who were in quarantine were released last Friday morning to go home.

DoH and its ASG partners are now preparing for the next flight from Honolulu set for Dec. 6th — which is the last scheduled one for this year.

The task force announced early last week that 325 travelers had registered on the TalofaPass websytem for the next flight from Honolulu — that is Dec. 6th —  but the final passenger count won’t be known until after the three required tests prior to departure.


On Nov.  26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and has named it “Omicron”. No cases of this variant have been identified in the U.S. to date.

CDC is following the details of this new variant, first reported to the WHO by South Africa. “We are grateful to the South African government and its scientists who have openly communicated with the global scientific community and continue to share information about this variant with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC. ”

The CDC is working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more about this variant, as we continue to monitor its path.

CDC is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country and expects Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.

The CDC recommends people follow prevention strategies such as wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, washing your hands frequently, and physically distancing from others. 

CDC also recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC encourages a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for those who are eligible.  

The CDC will provide updates as more information becomes available.