(CMR) One of the last places without the coronavirus, American Samoa, reported its first case of COVID-19 last week after a traveler who had visited the US mainland, tested positive after flying from Hawaii. This is the first case reported there, over 18 months into the pandemic.
The Washington Post reported that the positive case was discovered during a quarantine period required upon arrival in American Samoa. The traveler was fully vaccinated and had tested negative before traveling. The traveler was asymptomatic when tested last week and will continue to be monitored.
“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, D, said in a statement. “It further highlights the importance of maintaining our current quarantine protocols.”
Gabor Kelen, director of Johns Hopkins University's Department of Emergency Medicine, told The Washington Post it was surprising that American Samoa was able to evade the coronavirus as long as it did. He said that the “covid zero” approach, in which countries such as Australia mandated lockdowns, hotel quarantines, and other measures to stamp out transmission, probably is not possible in the long term.
“Can any nation, entity, territory, forever and ever evade coronavirus? I think that answer is almost for sure no,” Kelen said. Noting that Australia has had outbreaks despite its early success, he added, “Think of it almost like a pressure cooker. As soon as you release the valve just a little, it's over.”