The island nation of Samoa was exposed to its biggest spike in Covid this week after infected passengers arrived on a flight from Brisbane.
A flight from Brisbane has triggered the biggest Covid spike Samoa has seen since the start of the pandemic.
The island nation – which has remained relatively Covid-free over the past two years – on Thursday reported 10 returning residents had tested positive for the virus upon touching down on Wednesday afternoon.
Samoa had only recorded two cases in quarantine before then and no community transmission.
The infected returnees on the Qantas charter flight included four men, six women, and an 11-month old toddler, all of whom were asymptomatic and had received the required vaccinations they were eligible for.
They had tested negative for the virus before leaving Queensland for Faleolo International Airport, and have been placed in isolation at the Moto’otua National Hospital.
A further nine close contacts on the 73-passenger flight are quarantining at the Faleolo Health Clinic across from the airport near the capital Apia.
Despite the scare, Samoa’s director general of health Leausa Samau Dr Take Naseri said he was confident the virus had not escaped into the community.
“We are confident that there is no community transmission (as of today 20th January 2022) in the country,” he said.
Leausa said he highly suspected that the arrivals may have contracted the Omicron variant before leaving Brisbane.
Case numbers in the Queensland capital have surged in recent weeks following the reopening of borders and have been hovering around the 20,000 mark each day.
The positive Samoan test results have been transported to New Zealand for further examination.
“Omicron is highly transmittable and very contagious compared to the Delta variant. Omicron as we have witnessed from overseas poses a high mobility that will devastate our country if there is a community outbreak,” Leausa said.
Samoa has 62.2 per cent of its residents full vaccinated and remains at alert level one – or low-risk – with people encouraged to practice social distancing and basic hygiene.