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19 Apr 2020 | 09:28 AM UTC

US: Major disaster declared in American Samoa due to COVID-19 April 19

Major disaster declared in American Samoa due to COVID-19 April 19; abide by government directives

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ASM

Event

On Sunday, April 19, President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in American Samoa and ordered the release of federal assistance to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the US territory. As of April 19, the territory has yet to confirm its first case of COVID-19.

On March 6, health authorities in American Samoa announced the suspension of all travel permits until further notice except for returning residents with valid immigration identification or Immigration Board approval. Inter-Samoa travel was also reduced with charter flights banned until further notice and cruise ships prohibited from entering the US territory.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.

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 (Hubei province, 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 the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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 risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

• Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with 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.