4 May 2020

Caution still needed in American Samoa - epidemiologist

11:16 am on 4 May 2020

American Samoa's head epidemiologist says the territory should wait until the Covid-19 global pandemic sees further flattening of the curve before it loosens restrictions.

The State of Emergency in the territory has been extended until June.

It's been a month since the territory closed schools, restricted business hours and banned public gatherings.

The territory also halted cruise ship visits and flights from Samoa and Hawai'i.

The Department of Health's Aifili John Tufa said while cases around the world have started to plateau, caution is still needed.

"It is starting to slow down. I think if we hold on to our policies right now, it would be a safe thing for us to do because the number of cases, the number of deaths is still out there in the world."

"We should probably wait until this numbers come down before we start lifting our restrictions," Dr Tufa said.

LBJ hospital, American Samoa

LBJ hospital, American Samoa Photo: RNZI

There are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in American Samoa

However the territorial government decided to keep current restrictions in place until 1 June.

The territory's coronavirus taskforce chief, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, said the decision continues a policy "erring on the side of caution" to prevent Covid-19 from entering American Samoa.

Iulogologo warns of potential exposure to "a second wave if we accelerate the elimination of restrictions."

He said the additional time will give the territory time to fully implement their Testing Plan but said this is subject to the availability of test kits.

He said the government would also use the extra time to compile data to improve future decision making.