29 Jun 2009

Health ministry in Samoa under scrutiny over H1N1 flu virus border controls

3:27 pm on 29 June 2009

Samoa's Ministry of Health is continuing to strengthen its border control measures for swine flu in incoming passengers.

CEO, Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe, says the tourists are most welcome but not the new diseases they inadvertently bring with them.

The message comes after the World Health Organisation advised that border screening is not effective enough at keeping out the virus.

A total of 37 thousand passengers and crew have undergone screening at Samoa's borders since April, including 84 cruise ship passengers who were not allowed to leave the vessel because they did not pass the screening test.

Palanitina says the health ministry is aware of the country's obligations - as a party to the International Health Regulations, to minimize interference with international travel, and the importance of revenues from tourism.

But she says they are erring on the side of caution and politely refusing entry for those already symptomatic.