Wednesday’s repatriation flight first in series to bring residents home
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG’s new repatriation plan for American Samoa residents stranded in Samoa due to border closure over the COVID-19 threat, will be carried out in phases — based on available quarantine facilities — starting tomorrow, Wednesday, with priority to travelers without medical conditions and under 60-years old.
Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua revealed the new plan during DoH’s presentation at Sunday’s government coronavirus task force meeting, where he first gave an update on the availability of quarantine facilities.
Starting tomorrow June 17th, the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs building in Pago Pago, is providing 80 cots. DoH plans to have two-teams of 16 personnel, working 12 hour shifts.
Then on June 23rd, Sadie’s by the Sea hotel (already identified as a quarantine site) will have 80-beds available where DoH will have two-teams of 10 personnel also working 12 hour shifts.
According to the Health director, repatriation of local residents from Samoa will be carried out in phases. The first-phase is set to start June 17 to June 19, and travelers on these dates will be limited to those with “no underlying medical conditions or disabilities and less than 60-years old.”
DYWA is the designated quarantine site for these flights and DoH plans to bring in 30 to 40 passengers per day to fill the 80 cots. All travelers will receive, upon arrival, a COVID-19 test and travelers will go through the 14-days mandatory “full quarantine, regardless of test results,” according to the DoH plan.
Motusa said that one-week is set aside for staff recovery in the Veterans Memorial Center facility at the Tafuna Industrial Park, which will be used as the transition site for DoH personnel. This facility also has beds/cots for staff and bathrooms with showers.
Phase two of the repatriation plan will be on June 23 to 26 and travelers on these flights include authorized “essential workers” needed on island, the elderly and those with medical conditions/disabilities.
Motusa said a mitigation plan dealing with “essential workers” is being discussed, but noted that “essential workers” for example, include - workers that were brought by StarKist — more than a month ago — to work on the production equipment.
He said phase three is planned for June 29th, which is also the date when the 54 beds at Fatuoaiga — another identified quarantine facility — will be ready. Two-teams of 18 personnel working 12 hour shifts will be staffing this facility.
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said the number so far of local residents to be brought from Samoa is about 206 but it could be higher. He suggested that all local residents stranded in Samoa be repatriated by the first part of July and the list of names for returning local residents will be checked and verified with the Attorney General’s Office.
The governor also instructed DoH and other agencies to ensure that all ASG facilities are fully prepared, to include beds and other amenities, such as refrigerators. He also instructed DoH to ensure that construction of the new Tafuna Alternative Care quarantine facility — located behind the Tafuna Community Health Center — is completed as soon as possible. This facility will have 20-beds and two-teams of 8 personnel working 12-hours shifts as staff.
DoH said it would be releasing soon — by Wednesday — an official notice whereby local residents will be informed that they cannot have any person-to-person contact with their relatives while at the quarantine facilities, which will be manned by DoH personnel and police.