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15 Apr 2020 | 05:48 AM UTC

Samoa: Inter-island travel and public transport resume as authorities partially ease state of emergency restrictions April 15 /update 6

Samoan authorities allow resumption of inter-island travel and public transport amid a partial easing of state of emergency restrictions on April 15; follow authority directives

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Event

On Wednesday, April 15, Samoan authorities announced the resumption of inter-island travel and public transportation service amid a partial easing of state of emergency restrictions introduced amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. From April 15, ferry services between Upolu and Savaii will resume and operate four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Bus services will also operate until 17:30 (local time) but may only carry a maximum of 20 passengers per bus. Restaurants have also reopened, however, they will close daily at 21:30, whilst cinemas and nightclubs remain closed. Supermarkets are also permitted to operate until 18:00 between Monday and Saturday, but can only trade for three hours on Sundays. Other restrictions, including social distancing of 2 m (6.5 ft), remain in place.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced on Friday, April 3, that the nationwide state of emergency that came into effect on March 23 will be extended for four weeks through Saturday, May 2. Samoa has banned the entry of all non-citizens and non-residents to curb the spread of the virus. Samoan citizens and residents are required to undergo testing for COVID-19 within five days prior to re-entering the country. Flights have been suspended between Samoa and Australia, Tonga, Fiji, and American Samoa. Also, all public gatherings of more than five people are prohibited, including church gatherings and sporting events. An overnight curfew had also been imposed from 16:00 until 06:00 and markets may not open during the curfew. All schools remain closed until further notice.

As of Wednesday, April 15, Samoa has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19. 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.