16 Nov 2020

Covid ship to remain in American Samoa for a week

5:09 am on 16 November 2020

The ship which brought cases of Covid-19 into American Samoa's port, is taking longer to unload and reload than expected.

Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa

Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa Photo: AFP / Michael Runkel / Robert Harding Premium

Last week three crew from the Fesco Askold container ship tested positive for Covid-19 throwing a scare into the coronavirus-free community.

It was sent out of harbour for a few days before being cleared and brought back into dock.

However because work normally done by local stevedores is to be handled by the vessel's crew, the process was taking longer than usual.

The Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua, said the vessel was likely to be in port for a week.

Motusa assured the public that all precautions had been taken to prevent any spread of the coronavirus from the infected crew members.

Fesco Askold

Fesco Askold Photo: Etienne Verberckmoes

The three were isolated in their cabins while the vessel was in port and their temperatures were taken at least once daily.

Motusa revealed there were concerns the ship may leave without discharging its cargo and picking up tuna exports from StarKist Samoa for the US.

He said if that happened, it would have resulted in economic strife for the territory and mean food may be in short supply as the holidays approached.

He said such a situation may have influenced other vessels that delivered goods to the territory.

However the health director made it clear the main consideration was to protect the health and lives of everyone in the territory and e was confident the plan that was agreed upon for handling cargo served that purpose.

No one is to go on board the vessel. Equipment and crew of the Fesco Askold were off-loading containers and placing them in an area of the dock where they were decontaminated by the Island Safety and Sanitation company.

While the ship is in port its ladder or gang-plank is not to be lowered. Port Administration also has security on duty.

Meanwhile the 11 employees of the Department of Health and Port Administration that had contact with the infected crew members on its initial visit remained at the quarantine centre in Tafuna and all were reported to be well and showing no symptoms of Covid-19

Motusa Tuileama Nua

Motusa Tuileama Nua Photo: Facebook