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23 Mar 2020 | 12:16 PM UTC

Samoa: Country bans entry of all non-citizens, non-residents over COVID-19 as of March 23 /update 4

Samoa bans entry of all non-citizens, non-residents over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of March 23; further international spread of COVID-19 to be expected over near term

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Event

Samoa has banned the entry of all non-citizens and non-residents to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the country's borders as of Monday, March 23. Samoan citizens and residents are required to undergo testing for COVID-19 within five days prior to reentering the country.

Notably, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi declared a 15-day national state of emergency from Saturday, March 21, through Saturday, April 4, restricting international travel and public gatherings. Flights have been suspended between Samoa and Australia, Tonga, Fiji, and American Samoa. According to the Government of Samoa, Samoa Airways' final flight to New Zealand is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24. Also, all public gatherings of more than five people are prohibited, including church gatherings and sporting events. Bars, theaters, nightclubs, and other social areas are closed, and restaurants are only allowed to provide customers with food to take away. All public transportation, except vehicles that carry five people or less, is suspended. An overnight curfew is in effect from 16:00 until 06:00 (local time) and markets are not allowed to be open during the curfew. All schools remain closed until further notice.

As of Sunday, March 22, Samoa had not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 within its borders. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.  

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.