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27 Jan 2020 | 08:34 PM UTC

Samoa: Government issues travel and public health restrictions January 27

Government officials announce travel and public health restrictions amid ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus as of January 27; take necessary precautions

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Event

Representatives of the Samoan government issued a travel advisory and restrictions on Monday, January 27, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As of Monday, all travelers originating from or transiting through mainland China must spend at least 14 days in self-quarantine at the country of last port that is free from the 2019-nCoV and must undergo medical clearance at least three days prior to travel to Samoa. Travelers from countries with confirmed 2019-nCoV cases must also seek medical clearance at least three days in advance of travel to Samoa, including individuals from Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, US, South Korea, Macau, Japan, France, Nepal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In the event of arrival to Samoa within the 14-day quarantine period, individuals may be subject to repatriation to the country of travel origin if the traveler is not a Samoan resident. Compulsory screenings of all arriving passengers to Samoa are in effect as of Monday at all ports of entry.

The government also strongly advises all individuals intending to travel to China and any country reporting 2019-nCoV cases to postpone travel arrangements unless necessary.

Spread of the illness is possible over the near term.

Context

The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 in China. The source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. 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.

The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency panel in Geneva (Switzerland) on January 23 to discuss the virus, ultimately deciding that it was too early to classify the outbreak as a "public health emergency of international concern." As of January 24, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US, and suspected cases have been reported in Mexico and Australia. Fever screening measures are being implemented at airports worldwide.

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

Individuals who plan to travel to or have recently returned from China, particularly Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at the airport. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold

• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)

• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask

• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly

• Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments

• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease