Samoa detects scores of cases daily in its first-ever coronavirus outbreak

Boat coming ashore in Samoa
A traditional boat is hauled ashore in Apia, Samoa, in 2015. The island nation is having a coronavirus outbreak.
(Dean Purcell / New Zealand Herald)

Samoa has reported scores of new coronavirus cases daily since detecting its first-ever case of community transmission last week.

The South Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in lockdown since Saturday as it deals with its first outbreak since a worldwide pandemic was declared two years ago.

The outbreak was discovered after a woman who was about to travel tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday. The cascade of positive tests since indicates that the virus likely had been spreading undetected for days or even weeks.


Samoa reported 95 new cases Saturday and 85 more on Sunday.

Only 15 of the 196 active cases were imported from overseas, according to the latest government statement available Monday. More than 2,200 tests have been performed since Friday, the statement said.

Samoa and several neighboring Pacific island nations were among the last places in the world to avoid coronavirus outbreaks. But the more transmissible Omicron variant has changed the equation, and one by one the island nations have been hit by outbreaks.

China’s health authorities reported two COVID deaths Saturday, the first since January 2021, as the country battles its worst outbreak in two years.

March 19, 2022

Since the start of the year, Kiribati, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands and American Samoa have all experienced their first big outbreaks.

All Samoan schools are closed, public gatherings are banned and all stores and other services are shut down, except those considered essential. The lockdown is scheduled to last until Tuesday, but many expect it will be extended.

About 65% of all Samoans have had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data.

Samoa has had previous coronavirus scares and lockdowns after returning plane passengers tested positive while isolating, but the country had managed to avoid any community outbreaks until now.


Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru are among the few remaining Pacific island nations to have avoided Omicron-fueled outbreaks.