Samoa has its first suspected case of coronavirus, with a Kiwi traveller hospitalised and awaiting test results.

The island nation's government said in a statement that the Ministry of Health is investigating one patient for Covid-19.

"This is a suspected case only."

The patient, who is in a stable condition, was admitted to hospital today after experiencing flu-like symptoms for two days.

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They are at the TTM Hospital and are being cared for separately from other patients.

PRESS RELEASE; Ministry of Health; Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update ONE SUSPECTED CASE OF CORONAVIRUS 18th March 2020 ;...

Posted by Government of Samoa on Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The person lives in Auckland and flew in from New Zealand on Wednesday March 11 for a family event.

The patient's samples have been sent to Australia for testing. Results should be available in 10-20 working days.

The patient is in a stable condition in TTM Hospital in Samoa.
The patient is in a stable condition in TTM Hospital in Samoa.

"The ministry is presently undertaking contact tracing of all possible contacts. The public will be updated immediately as soon as we have further information."

If the case is confirmed it could change the New Zealand Government's current travel restrictions, which took effect from Monday at 1am. Anyone arriving in this country must self-isolate for 14 days but at the moment those travelling from Pacific countries are exempt.

"The ministry is presently undertaking contact tracing of all possible contacts. The public will be updated immediately as soon as we have further information."

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Anyone who has travelled or transited through countries with confirmed Covid-19 cases has been urged by the Samoan Government to self-isolate and watch out for symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath and a fever.

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"If you have any of these symptoms please contact the Ministry of Health Covid-19 call centre for advice."

"The Ministry of Health is taking full precautions and preventive measures, to control the transmission of Covid-19, including preparing the health system to treat and care for our patients when the first case arrives."

An outbreak of the Covid-19 virus may overwhelm an already creaking healthcare system, the Samoan Observer reported.

Poao Dr Lamour Hansell, head of the Covid-19 taskforce, told the 12th Annual Health Sector Forum that as health facilities were already under huge strain, an outbreak would "result in a meltdown".

If coronavirus was to spread across Samoa, Hansell said the only option available involved isolating health workers from their families and putting their lives at risk treating infected patients.

"[Our] number one concern and priority is our staff. If there is no health staff, if they are infected and quarantine them for 14 days, there's no one to look after our public."

"We've already heard about the constraints and the challenges that our clinical health has right now and we are stretched just with the normal services. Having another extra outbreak on top of our current service, we won't be able to cope."

There are 8 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand - one in Christchurch, two in Waikato and another in Invercargill, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

Hansell said health officials were working to prepare for the arrival of the virus, with the Ministry of Health closely watching overseas developments and preparing for the worst case scenario.