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The new coronavirus that has claimed six lives and close to 300 confirmed cases originated in China’s Wuhan city and has now been reported across major cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
Wuhan is a central city of 11 million where the disease was first identified late last year and the outbreak believed to be linked to a seafood market that also sells live animals.
Since the outbreak, Samoa’s Beijing based Ambassador to China Tapusalaia Terry Toomata has been worried about the country’s 10 scholarship students studying in Wuhan.
“Monitoring this deadly virus as outbreak is a concern especially with Chinese NY holidays about to start. We have 10 students in Wuhan where the virus first appeared and we are in contact. Schools are on holiday for Chinese NY break until late Feb, said Ambassador Toomata in a social media post.
The Ambassador says he is keeping a close eye on the situation.
“Some students are currently overseas now during winter break and those in Wuhan are okay.”
In Parliament this week, Opposition MP Olo Fiti Vaai said Samoa should take early precautions to protect its borders from the spread of the coronavirus.
The Member for Salega i Sasa’e called for a global epidemic plan or a pandemic emergency response plan to protect Samoa.
In response, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the Ministry of Health was well aware of the situation and already taken action.
Ambassador Toomata also commented about the need to impose border controls for Samoa.
“Border quarantine for passengers from China and Asia to Samoa especially via Nadi is essential,” posted Tapusalaia.
Authorities in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan are already reported to have stepped up screening of air passengers from Wuhan.
U.S authorities announced similar measures at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
There are fears that the virus could spread swiftly – and further across the country – as millions of people across China prepare to travel home for the Chinese New Year holidays later this week.
This mass movement of people could also mean that authorities will not be able to monitor further spread of the disease and experts say there already could be many cases going undetected.
A handful of cases have also been identified abroad: two in Thailand, one in Japan, one in South Korea and one in Taiwan. Those infected had recently returned from Wuhan.
SOURCE: SAMOA GLOBAL NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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