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American Samoa reported its first COVID-19 case on Friday, prompting a reminder of safety measures for residents on the island.
The case was detected Thursday among 43 travelers who were quarantined at the Sadies by the Sea hotel in the village of Utulei. The positive case was a resident returning to American Samoa from Hawaii.
“The discovery of this positive case during quarantine highlights the importance of why our process is critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Lemanu Mauga said in a statement.
Mauga was among the passengers on the flight from Hawaii and is now in quarantine.
“It further highlights the importance of maintaining our current quarantine protocols,” he said.
American Samoa requires all travelers to be vaccinated and to quarantine upon arrival.
The traveler arrived on Monday, which was the first day of resumed commercial flights from Honolulu to Pago Pago. The route had been suspended since March 2020, The Associated Press reported.
The resident was fully vaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19 before boarding the flight. After landing in American Samoa, however, the traveler tested positive on the third day of quarantine. The person doesn’t have any symptoms and has been transported to an isolation facility. The rest of the passengers are still in quarantine.
After the case was confirmed, officials tested 217 other travelers who were on the same flight and quarantined at the nearby Tradewinds Hotel. No additional positive cases were reported.
Mauga and public health officials called on the island nation to follow physical distancing protocols, maintain good hygiene, and stay vigilant.
American Samoa remains at code blue status, which means there is minimal social disruption to society such as quarantine or isolation measures, according to The Hill.
However, all flights have been suspended until further notice. As of Saturday, all sales and ticketing at Samoa Airways in New Zealand and Australia were closed.
Last year, the U.S. territory identified positive cases on a cargo ship docked at a port, the AP reported. The crew didn’t leave the ship, and officials didn’t include the infections in an official count for the island.
The territory has been closed since March last year. It resumed twice-monthly flights on Monday with several protocols for travelers, including mandatory vaccination, three negative COVID-19 tests and a mandatory 10-day quarantine.
About half of American Samoa’s population is vaccinated, and residents are being offered $100 per dose until Oct. 15 to get a shot. So far, the territory has resisted a vaccine mandate, the news outlet reported.
American Samoa Department of Homeland Security: “COVID-19 Task Force Information Statement, September 17, 2021.”
Official Portal of The U.S. Territory of AMERICAN SAMOA: COVID-19 Risk Level Matrix
The Associated Press: “1st case of COVID in American Samoa arrives on Hawaii flight.”
The Hill: “American Samoa reports first case of COVID-19.”
CBS News: “American Samoa reports first positive COVID-19 case.”
Honolulu Civil Beat: “American Samoa Reports First Covid-19 Case.”