11 Feb 2020

Group refused entry to Samoa amid coronavirus fears

9:16 am on 11 February 2020

A group of Samoans, who were in India for medical treatment, have been refused entry back into Samoa as part of efforts to protect the nation from the coronavirus.

Under new measures, Samoans and non-Samoans alike will be refused entry without a two week period of quarantine in another country free of the virus, and medical certification.

Leausa Take Naseri

Samoa's Director General of Health, Leausa Take Naseri. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavai Tipi Autagavai

The group of eight - five patients and three caregivers - were all refused entry on Sunday night.

The patients had undergone medical treatment at the two hospitals in India under the Samoa government funded Overseas Medical Referral programme.

The group had flown from India via Singapore, which is listed as high risk for coronavirus, and transited in Fiji.

Samoa's Director General of Health, Leausa Take Naseri, said the incoming passengers might not have been aware that Singapore had been added to a list of "high risk" countries.

In total 19 travellers, including the Samoan group, were denied entry Sunday night.

The remainder had arrived either from mainland China or one of the other countries on the high risk advisory.

Meanwhile, seven ni-Vanuatu students that had been studying in Wuhan, China, have been evacuated.

Vanuatu's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has thanked the Australian government for providing seats for them on a special charter flight which left on Sunday.

A Papua New Guinean student was also on the flight.

The students will be kept in quarantine in Darwin for 14 days before they return to their respective countries.

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