Samoa's PM calls for calm after nation reports first case of Covid-19
Samoa’s PM calls for calm after the Pacific nation reports its first case of Covid-19
- The small Pacific nation was among a handful of nations not to have seen a case
- Those that remain include Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, and Tuvalu
- North Korea and Turkmenistan also claim to have seen zero Covid-19 infections
- Samoa PM Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi appeared on Thursday
- He appealed for calm, but reminded its 200,000 citizens to remain vigilant
The Prime Minister of the small Pacific nation of Samoa called for calm on Thursday after the country reported its first case of Covid-19.
Samoa was among a dwindling handful of nations not to have reported a single case of the virus that includes other isolated island countries.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi appealed for calm among Samoa’s 200,000 people, but asked them to stay vigilant with their virus precautions.
Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi (pictured, file photo) appealed for calm on Thursday after the small Pacific nation reported its first coronavirus case
The leader of the Pacific country addressed the nation live on television and radio following the report.
According to the Samoa Observer, the prime minister said the patient was a sailor who had been staying in a quarantine facility since flying in from New Zealand on Friday.
He said the sailor returned a positive test four days after arriving, but then a second test on Thursday returned a negative result.
The prime minister said the Cabinet would meet on Thursday to decide on any changes to the current virus procedures.
Pacific island nations swiftly isolated themselves early in the pandemic, despite the economic cost, fearing that their poor health infrastructure made them particularly vulnerable.
But despite the measures, the number of countries that have remained coronavirus-free are dwindling.
Samoa was previously among the Pacific islands not to have reported a Covid-19 case. The remote island nations and territories of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu are believed to still be free of the virus, while North Korea and Turkmenistan also say they have not seen a case, although there are doubts around their claim
The last countries with no confirmed cases of Covid-19
On November 11, Vanuatu announced its first ever case when health officials said a 23-year-old islander who recently returned from the United States had tested positive while in quarantine.
He was asymptomatic when he returned to Vanuatu on November 4, but his infection was picked up in routine testing the following week.
The Solomon Islands and Marshall Islands lost their virus-free status last month, although, like Vanuatu, they have so far avoided community transmission.
The remote island nations and territories of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, and Tuvalu are believed to still be free of the virus.
Vanuatu closed its borders in March in a bid to keep the pandemic at bay, and has only recently begun allowing strictly-controlled repatriation flights.
‘I want to assure the public and citizens of this country that this situation is under control,’ prime minister Bob Loughman told the nation.
The infected man had travelled from the United States via Sydney and Auckland, but was isolated from other passengers because he had been in a high-risk location.
An aerial view of Vanuatu which announced its first ever case of Covid-19 last week, also giving up its place on the list of the world’s last uncontaminated countries
Loughman said he would not put restrictions on public gatherings, close schools or ask people to work from home.
But some domestic travel could be restricted, the country’s mandatory quarantine for returnees was set to be doubled to 28 days, and citizens could have to show negative test results within 72 hours before departure.
‘The timely and hard closure of Vanuatu’s borders has bought them crucial time to plan and act strategically,’ Australia-based public health expert Lana Elliott said.
The government’s actions, she said, ‘kept their population safer than just about any other country on earth’.
North Korea also claims to have had no cases of coronavirus, although this has been met with scepticism by experts.
Kim Jong-un’s regime imposed a lockdown on the border town of Kaesong in July amid fears that a returning defector had the virus, but it was never confirmed.
Turkmenistan has similarly claimed to be virus-free, although a US embassy alert in June cast doubt on this.
Like North Korea, the gas-rich desert nation is one of the world’s most tightly-controlled and isolated countries.
The last few places in the world with no confirmed cases of coronavirus include a handful of Pacific Islands, North Korea, and research stations in Antarctica (pictured in a file photo)
Research stations in Antarctica are also free of the virus, although scientific work on the southern continent has been disrupted by the pandemic.
Countries with Antarctic programmes warned in March that the harsh weather and limited public health facilities could be a disaster if the virus reached the continent.
The astronauts on the International Space Station have also steered clear of the virus, having been quarantined before they blasted off from Earth.
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