Samoa imposes lockdown, closes borders amid COVID cases

·2 min read

The Pacific island nation of Samoa entered a 48-hour lockdown on Saturday after COVID-19 tests for 15 passengers on a flight from Australia came back positive.

The nation of roughly 200,000 people will remain under lockdown until Monday evening, according to a press release from the Samoan government.

The release detailed restrictions that would be put in place during the lockdown, including a stay-at-home order, complete border closures, school closures and a ban on all mass gatherings.

"With the legal powers inked in the Letters of the COVID-19 state of emergency orders, it is mandatory for face masks to be worn in public and the same mandate is applied to the rest of the restrictions," Secretary to Cabinet and Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Center Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo said in a statement.

"The binding restrictions to comply to the letter is due to the potential collateral damages to our country especially the lives of our residents, now at high risk," he added.

Samoans face a $2,000 fine if they do not comply.

The Samoan government confirmed the 15 cases among a group of 73 passengers who entered the country on a flight from Australia on Wednesday. All those who tested positive are in isolation, while the rest of the passengers from the flight are in quarantine, according to the release.

Agafili said Samoa "cannot afford to be complacent."

"Our country is in a national emergency and our security is under siege from COVID-19," he said.

The neighboring territory of American Samoa has not gone into lockdown, according to The Associated Press, though it has reported 18 active cases of the virus.

Another Pacific island nation, Kiribati, also has gone into lockdown after passengers on an international flight to the country tested positive for COVID-19. It marks Kiribati's first lockdown since the pandemic began.

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