Covid in Samoa
As at 8 December 2021 Samoa has remained Covid free. There have been a couple of historic cases, but there has never been any community transmission. 94% of those over 18 have received at least a first shot of the Astra Zenica Vaccine.
The borders are currently closed to tourists. There are occasional repatriation flights for Samoa citizens, but these are rare and places keenly sought. All arrivals must quarantine for two weeks at an approved hotel.
When will Samoa open to Tourism?
No official date has been set. However the criteria for opening to New Zealand tourists are likely to include:
- All adult population of Samoa vaccinated (Nearly done)
- New Zealand’s vaccination program has extended to the whole population (going well).
- All travellers have vaccination certificate and covid test.
While New Zealand had no community transmission of Covid and before Omicron we were expecting to open in the first quarter of 2022. I remain hopeful that we will open by Easter, but it is far from certain.
The political situation has stabilised with the swearing in of the new Government and passing of a budget. There are promising signs that the new Government is very sensative to the need for tourism – as the main stay of the economy.
Also important will be a quarantine free return to New Zealand. This will require negotiation with and cooperation from the New Zealand Government. This is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2022, when the population of NZ will be largely vaccinated.
How quickly Australia would be included in this bubble is less clear. Most likely it would follow a few months later.
Samoa and Epidemics
In 2019 Samoa suffered a measles outbreak that killed 85 people, most of them children. The outbreak was the result of lowering vaccination levels and was eventually contained with a mass vaccination program.
The 1918-1919 Spanish flu epidemic was estimated to have killed 20% of the population, but possibly 50% of the matais (chiefs). Even though this was over 100 years ago, it was still a strong part of Samoa’s history – even before the last Measles epidemic. So it is little wonder that Samoa has locked down the borders so hard, declaring a state of emergency in April 2020 that still continues.
The current closed borders are having a major effect on the economy as Tourism was approximately one third of foreign exchange earnings (remittances and aid making up a further 60%). So there is real pressure to open the country up.