Samoa goes into lockdown after 15 Australians test positive

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The prime minister of Samoa has placed the small Pacific nation into a 48-hour lockdown after 15 passengers on a flight from Australia tested positive for COVID-19.

The infected passengers were among 73 who arrived from Brisbane on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa also said Saturday the government may cancel further flights from Australia. A scheduled flight from New Zealand on Saturday has already been postponed, according to Radio New Zealand.

All the passengers were reportedly fully vaccinated and had tested negative for COVID-19 before departure.

The governor of neighboring American Samoa, Lemanu Palepoi Sialega “Peleti” Mauga, issued a statement offering words of solidarity to Samoa and support for its prime minister. He also announced the cancellation of flights between the territory and Samoa for one week.

Samoa, population 200,000, has reported 18 active cases.

American Samoa also has 18 cases, all of them travelers from Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines flights from Honolulu. The latest group of seven who tested positive arrived Jan 6.

There is no lockdown in American Samoa and flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago continue on limited basis.

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Associated Press writer Fili Sagapolutele in Pago Pago, American Samoa, contributed to this report.