23 Jan 2022

Samoan health workers well prepared for arrival of Covid - doctor

5:32 pm on 23 January 2022

A doctor says Samoa is well-prepared to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community.

Faumuina Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga

Dr Faumuina Fa'afetai Sopoaga Photo: University of Otago

Samoa went into a two-day lockdown last night, after 15 people on a flight from Brisbane tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival.

University of Otago Pacific health director professor Faumuina Fa'afetai Sopoaga said the cases are a concern for the country, but Samoa is well prepared.

Samoa has tight border restrictions, high vaccination rates and was actively promoting public health measures in the community.

"The Ministry of Health staff has prepared many times for a scenario like this, and so the staff that have direct contact with managing the cases they themselves would go into quarantine too, so that just limits any chance of Covid getting into the community.

"To our Samoan families here in New Zealand, who of course would be concerned about the situation in Samoa - the country is ready and prepared, as prepared as one can be in these kind of unusual times that we live in.

"So we will walk alongside them and continue to uphold them also in prayer as they navigate this situation."

The Covid-19 pandemic came on the back of the 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa, which Professor Sopoaga said helped to strengthen its public health response and awareness in the community.

'People are very worried'

Church doors in Samoa were shut today as the nation remains in lockdown until 6pm tomorrow.

RNZ Pacific correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia said all churches, offices and shops were closed, including all public transport.

"People are very worried because ... it's the biggest number we ever had of cases from these repatriation flights," he said.

"There will be follow-up tests tomorrow, so we are expecting another update from the Ministry of Health after those tests."

Autagavaia said only essential services can open.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs