Samoa Campus

Samoa Campus

Campus Advisory: COVID-19 Awareness Session

In the wake of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Samoa Government is proactively taking precautionary measures. On a similar note, in addition to regular email advisories, the Samoa Campus Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committee, organized an awareness session on COVID-19 on Saturday, 07 March 2020, for the campus community.

The session was conducted by Dr. Tagaloa Robert Thomsen, Deputy Director General, Samoa Ministry of Health and Ms. Joyce Levaai, Infection Control Officer, The Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital (T.T.M.).

Here is a summary of the main points raised by Dr. Tagaloa Robert Thomsen:

Why should we worry about COVID-19? Given the recent measles outbreak in Samoa, the introduction of another infectious disease such as COVID-19 would be catastrophic. Studies have shown that measles suppresses the immune system for two to three years after infection, leaving children who have had it vulnerable to other infections, thus, contributing to greater rates of infectious disease and death in children. 

Does COVID-19 spread person-to-person? The virus can spread from one person to another, most likely through droplets of saliva or mucus carried in the air for up to one to two meters when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Viral particles may be breathed in, land on surfaces that people touch, or be transferred when shaking hands or sharing a drink with someone who has the virus.

Who is at risk of developing severe illness? COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness. About 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. Older persons appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19? To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019.

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19? The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces? It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. Studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.

How to protect oneself and prevent the spread of disease? You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash them with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand or sanitizer kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least one meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
    Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
    By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

Ms. Joyce Levaai, made a presentation on how to maintain hygiene and the proper way to wash your hands to avoid infection. Two very important advice included:

Alcohol content in hand sanitizers. When buying hand sanitizers, one should check the contents of the product to ensure alcohol content is above 70 per cent, as anything less than that is unlikely to kill the germs.

The importance of proper hand hygiene. See step by step instructions for: 

The Campus Community is advised to visit the World Health Organisation website for latest updates.

As at 11 March 2020, WHO made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

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