Samoa lockdown extended for two weeks; vaccinations to continue

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Samoa’s nationwide lockdown will be extended for another two weeks while the Ministry of Health (MOH) implements the vaccination roll out for children as well as adults who are not inoculated.

Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa revealed the extension of the Level 3 lockdown in a special announcement on Tuesday indicating that there will be two days in the two-week period allowing people to replenish supplies and access essential services.

Due to the late notice, the Prime Minister said the window from 8am to 2pm for people to access these essential services will start on Wednesday 23 March and coming Saturday 26 March.

Essential services including shops will open for six hours on Wednesday 23 March, Saturday 26 March, Tuesday 29 March, Saturday 02 April and Tuesday 05 April.

The Prime Minister said there are five community cases in Savai’i and the rest in Upolu including 15 active imported cases following their arrival on a repatriation flight from New Zealand on 6 March.

“The surge in community cases was expected and will continue to increase due to the transmissibility of this virus,” said PM Mata’afa.

“However it is clinically proven that promoting the practice of simple protective behaviour that can reduce risk to ourselves and families, such as staying home to reduce contact, and adhering to preventative health measures will help reduce new infection and will subsequently contain community cases.

“These are crucial key component of our national response which will support out ministry of health to take necessary measures to contain spread of virus and response to cases that require hospital care.

“Enhanced surveillance as well as maintain high vaccination rates necessitate the roll out of the pediatric Pfizer for children 5 to 11 years old expected to commence this week in Savaii and the continuation of vaccination roll out including booster dose once the bulk supplies arrive over the next week.”

The Government will be releasing regular information on the vaccination roll out. The public is also advised for programmes vaccination rollout and steps to be followed once return a positive rapid antigen test.

Mata’afa said the message during national response is clear that vaccines are highly effective in protecting from severe tests and diseases.

“Unfortunately the tests conducted this week shows some haven’t even started vaccination or not completed their two doses and this is concern to all of us,” she said.

“In this connection the Cabinet has considered recommendation from Disaster Advisory Committee and thereby approved the continuation of level 3 for another 14 days commencing from midnight 22nd March to Tuesday 05 April.”

The Prime Minister said there is opportunity to review the timeframe at the end of the first week of lockdown.

All other services will close throughout the 2 weeks allowing the MOH to lead testing for COVID-19 at screening sites, monitor current and emerging cases and rollout vaccination for children, youths and adults.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 community cases in Samoa have surged over the last 24-hours with health authorities recording 220 new cases to push the cumulative total for the country to 467.

Upolu continues to lead with the highest number of community cases which now sit at 454 with only 13 cases reported in Savai’i, the Government Press Secretariat has advised in its community transmission update.

The smaller islands of Manono-Tai and Apolima-Tai continue to record zero active cases since the country’s first community case was detected last Thursday.

A total of 3,313 Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) were administered between Monday and Tuesday with 2,507 administered in Upolu and 806 in Savaii. A total of 11,588 RATs have been conducted to date since last Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Health, age groups between 15 to 19 years and 25 to 29 years of age recorded the highest percentages of positive cases.

The Press Secretariat also advised that there are currently no cases in the national hospital’s intensive care unit and no record of cumulative deaths.

SOURCE:SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS