14 May 2020

Reservations about reopening borders - Samoa PM

7:13 am on 14 May 2020

Samoa's prime minister says he has deep reservations about reopening borders.

Samoa was one of the first to lock down because of Covid-19, fearing a repeat of last year's measles epidemic which killed 83 people.

Samoa’s Faleolo international airport’s newly built departure lounge has been equipped with new technology

Samoa international airport Photo: RNZI Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The country's tourism industry has been hard hit by the shut down, and there has been talk about joining a so-called travel bubble if New Zealand eliminates Covid-19.

But in a video recorded by his office, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he's reluctant to rush into reopening.

The Samoan Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi speaks at the launching of the new Talofa Airways at Fagalii airport on August 22 2016

Samoa's prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Photo: RNZI/Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

"There's a proverbial saying, once bitten twice shy. We have been hit hard by the measles, and we did not want to be hit again a second time."

"That's why we took off at the first sign of Covid, and we were criticised very heavily because of that but we made the decision, and that's it, he said.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he'd want assurances from Australia and New Zealand before joining any bubble, including health tests before departure.