Friday, May 31, 2024
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Facing first COVID outbreak, Samoa goes on lockdown

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (AP) – Samoa will go into lockdown from today as it faces its first outbreak of COVID-19 after a woman who was about to leave the country
tested positive.

Although health authorities have so far found just a single case, it is the first time Samoa has found any unexplained cases in the community and likely points to an undetected outbreak that has been going on for days or even weeks.

A government report leaked online indicates the woman had visited church services, a hospital, stores, a library and a travel agency since first feeling ill last Saturday.

Samoa and several neighbouring Pacific island nations were among the last places on earth to avoid virus outbreaks. But the more transmissible Omicron variant changed the equation, and one by one the island nations have been succumbing to COVID-19.

Since the start of the year, Kiribati, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands and American Samoa experienced their first big outbreaks.

From midnight today, schools will be closed, public gatherings will be banned, and stores and other services will be shut down, except those considered essential. From midnight yesterday, people were required to wear masks and use vaccination cards.

There were reports yesterday of panic-buying ahead of the lockdown.

The lockdown is initially scheduled to last through midnight on Tuesday.

About 65 per cent of Samoans have had at least two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, according to Our World in Data.

A traditional boat in Apia, Samoa. PHOTO: AP