25 Mar 2020

Samoa to fine people who don't adhere to Covid-19 restrictions

5:08 pm on 25 March 2020

Samoa is to start fining people and organisations that do not adhere to the new Covid-19 lockdown requirements from midnight tonight.

Lockdown requirements include restricting public gatherings to no more than five people.

Samoa PM and Police Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoai

Samoa PM and Police Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoai Photo: RNZ Pacific /Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi said individuals would be fined $US45 for their first offence and $US245 for a repeat.

Fines for organisations - including churches - are $US2,080, increasing to $US2,916.

Tuila'epa said people breaching the lockdown requirement would have the offence lodged as a criminal record which would affect overseas travel.

Meanwhile under the new lockdown requirements, inter-island passenger travel will be halted from midnight with ferries then only carrying goods and essential services staff.

Special flights will have been made today between Samoa and Fiji and American Samoa, to return those people to their homes and transport back Samoan students before the midnight lockdown.

Vessels bringing fuel and freight into Samoa were still allowed but new security measures apply.

Initially Samoa shut the border with American Samoa last Thursday when a state of emergency was announced but that left dozens of American Samoans stranded.

The US territory's governor, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, asked for special flights to be arranged to bring people back to Pago Pago.

Samoa Airways said it flew six flights with 14-16 passengers yesterday and operated more today.

All who return to Pago Pago are being transported to a quarantine facility for 14 days.

American Samoa sends sample of suspected case

Meanwhile American Samoa's Department of Health has sent a sample of a suspected COVID-19 case off island for testing.

The case is a woman who is being quarantined at home after travelling to New Zealand.

The local resident had already spent 14 days in quarantine in Samoa before arriving in the territory on 14 March.

Department of Health Epidemiologist Aifili Dr John Tufa said two days before she arrived in American Samoa she developed a slight cough.

She had been given a three day health clearance by the Samoa's Ministry of Health.

A few days later she started having breathing problems and called the Department of Health.

She was currently being isolated at home with DOH teams visiting her every day.

Her results were expected within a week.

Two other tests are pending, one a traveler from Seattle, and the other a local who was exposed to a traveler from the same area at a funeral.

Lolo Matalasi Moliga at his State of the Territory address.

Lolo Matalasi Moliga at his State of the Territory address. Photo: RNZI / Monica Miller