The Samoan government announced on Sunday, August 30, that the state of emergency which was imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will be extended until September 27. The decision comes following the government's decision to temporarily suspend all international flights on August 26, including a repatriation flight from Auckland (New Zealand) following an increase in COVID-19 cases in the city.
The Samoan government has relaxed a number of restrictions brought in to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under the new regulations, some gatherings, including church services, are now allowed to have up to 100 attendees so long as a social distancing of 2m (6ft) is adhered to. Restaurants and entertainment venues have resumed operations at a limited capacity and following social distancing measures. Restaurants are also permitted to operate on Sundays between 12:00 and 22:00 (local time) for takeaway services only. Markets are allowed to reopen, although street vendors remain prohibited from selling on footpaths. Public transport, including bus and ferry services, also resumed a normal schedule apart from Sundays when no services operate. A ban on most gatherings and public activities remains in place on Sundays.
Samoan citizens and residents are required to undergo testing for COVID-19 within five days prior to re-entering the country and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for arrivals remains in effect.
As of August 30, Samoa has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over 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, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on 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.