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19 Nov 2020 | 03:32 AM UTC

Authorities confirm first COVID-19 case November 19

Samoan authorities confirm country’s first COVID-19 case on November 19; further spread of the virus expected over the near term



On Thursday, November 19, Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sai'lele Malielagaoi confirmed the country's first reported case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The case involved a man who was among a group of sailors who arrived into the country on a repatriation flight from Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday, November 13, and tested positive whilst in managed isolation. The individual tested negative in a follow-up test on Thursday. Malielegaoi said an announcement would be made later on Thursday as to whether any additional measures would be introduced among the general population to prevent the spread of the virus.

Samoa's state of emergency has been in place since March and was extended on October 27 until Sunday, November 22. However, travel restrictions have been eased in recent months to allow repatriation flights via Australia and New Zealand. There has also been an easing of restrictions on public gatherings, including allowing people to attend church services, funerals, and weddings, under certain social distancing protocols. Restaurants and entertainment venues have also been permitted to reopen at a reduced capacity.

Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.


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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.

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

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.


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.

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