1 Feb 2020

Samoan students in China won't be evacuated - Samoa govt

6:28 am on 1 February 2020

Samoan students in China, including those in the coronavirus infected Hubei province, will not be evacuated, the Samoa government says.

(200127) -- BEIJING, Jan. 27, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Aerial photo taken on Jan. 26, 2020 shows the Yellow Crane Pavilion and the Yangtze River Bridge in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province.

Photo: AFP

Ministry of Foreign Affairs chief executive Peseta Noumea Simi said students would remain in Wuhan under the care of their universities, alongside more than 70 other Pacific students.

Ten Samoan students are studying in Wuhan but four left the province during the holidays and have not returned following advice not to.

Peseta said the situation remained carefully monitored and supported by the Samoa Embassy in Beijing.

The Chinese government was deploying human and financial resources to Wuhan to stop the virus from spreading further, she said.

"The advice to everyone is to be patient and not panic," she said.

The Samoa Observer reported a student in Wuhan saying it seemed safer to "ride out" the virus than to leave the city.

New Zealand and Australia are planning to fly their citizens out of China as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, alternative flights to bring home four Tongan sports teams stranded in China will be confirmed soon, Tonga's Ministry of Internal Affairs says.

Matangi Tonga reported the teams' connecting flights to Hong Kong were cancelled earlier this week because of the virus.

The ministry said China's government had proposed a new connection, either to Shanghai or Beijing.

Young students wear face masks in the arrivals hall at Hong Kong's international airport on January 22, 2020.

Young students wear face masks in the arrivals hall at Hong Kong's international airport on January 22, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace / AFP

There are a total of 51 Tongan athletes and officials, including the Kingdom's swimming and table tennis teams who had been training in China, that need to get home.

All are well and being looked after at their hotels, the ministry said.

In American Samoa, a Chinese man, who arrived on a Hawaiian Air flight this week, has been placed in quarantine.

The businessman, who has lived in the territory for more than 15 years, had spent five days in Chengdu Province, which has so far recorded 90 cases of coronavirus.

KHJ news reported the man was cleared by health authorities, which screened Hawaiian Air passengers on Monday evening.

However, a government official was informed of the man's trip to China by a third party and the Department of Health was alerted. The businessman was taken into quarantine yesterday.

Epidemiologist Aifili John Tufa said the man had not shown any signs of illness and there was a low probability of him having been exposed to the virus during his travels.

A couple from Florida, who were sent back to American Samoa after being refused entry into Samoa, were the first people to be quarantined at the teritory's Leone Health Center.

They have since been cleared and released.

A woman wearing a protective mask walks on the street outside Beijing railway station on January 22, 2020.

Photo: AFP

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