Samoa enters lockdown after passengers on Brisbane flight test positive for COVID
Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata'afa is considering canceling flights from Australia. Photo: AAP
Samoa entered a 48-hour lockdown on Saturday evening after 15 passengers on a flight from Australia tested positive for COVID-19 after entering the Pacific island nation.
The infected passengers were among 73 who arrived in on a flight from Brisbane on Wednesday.
Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said on Saturday that the government may cancel further flights from Australia.
The positive cases has reportedly all been fully vaccinated and returned negative COVID-19 tests before departure.
“All [the] positive cases are in isolation sites while the rest of the passengers remain in quarantine facilities,” the Samoan government said in a statement on Saturday.
A scheduled flight from New Zealand on Saturday was postponed, according to Radio New Zealand.
The governor of neighbouring American Samoa, Lemanu Palepoi Sialega “Peleti” Mauga, issued a statement offering words of solidarity to Samoa and support for its prime minister.
He also announced the cancellation of flights between the territory and Samoa for one week.
Samoa, with a population of 200,000, has reported 18 active cases.
American Samoa also has 18 cases, all of them travellers from Hawaii on a Hawaiian Airlines flights from Honolulu.
The latest group of seven who tested positive arrived on January 6.
There is no lockdown in American Samoa and flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago continue on limited basis.
The Samoan lockdown comes after dozens of passengers on a flight to Kiribati from Fiji — the first to arrive in the nation since borders reopened — tested positive for the virus.
Kiribati’s President Taneti Maamau said the capital South Tarawa, which is home to almost half of the nation’s 120,000 people, would be placed under the restrictions after recording its first community cases.
“There is now an assumption that COVID-19 is now spreading in the community,” said in a statement.
Under the restrictions, locals must stay home unless in need of essentials like food or healthcare. It was unclear how long the lockdown would last.
Some 62 per cent of Samoa’s population is fully vaccinated, while just 34 per cent of Kiribati’s population has received two doses of vaccine, according to data from the World Health Organisation.