Samoa is to change the mandatory 14-day quarantine period to 21 days for anyone returning to the country in a continued bid to keep Covid-19 off the island nation.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has told local media of his intentions to bump up managed isolation to three weeks - as well as a move to change a 2m social distance policy to 10m.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi pictured with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Pacific Islands Forum in 2018. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi pictured with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Pacific Islands Forum in 2018. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Speaking to state radio station Radio 2AP, he said 14 days was "not enough" anymore.

Acknowledging international reports about the continued spread of the deadly disease, he said: "We've noticed that the virus travels through the air, which means the old restrictions of two metres distances are not operational.

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"We should change it to 10 metres. If that's the case, then two metres is too short if the virus can travel through the air," he said.

"The two metres we've been trying to implement and follow is not strong enough to prevent the virus [from spreading]."

Samoa remains one of now the few countries around the world - mostly in the Pacific region - to have had not one confirmed Covid-19 case.

Fight to keep Covid-19 out after deadly measles epidemic

Samoa's ongoing push to keep Covid-19 away from its shores follows a measles epidemic that devastated the country last year - resulting in the deaths of 83 people.

The majority of the victims were young children.

The country has extended a state of emergency - first announced in March - to September 27.

It was due to end today, but the extension was announced by officials over the weekend.

Last week the Samoan government suspended all international flights and cancelled a repatriation flight from Auckland - due to fly out on Friday - because of the resurgence of the virus within the community.

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Tuilaepa acknowledged that many of the active cases in the outbreak in Auckland was affecting the Pasifika community and there were fears anyone returning from the city to Samoa may be infected.

He said he feared the practice of congregating in large numbers would likely see the coronavirus brought to Samoa.

The State of Emergency orders included the continued ban on Sunday trading and sailing between the Upolu and Savaii islands.

Meanwhile, police there have led a major enforcement drive to make sure churches were abiding by the orders' restrictions on gatherings.

Some churchgoers were physically removed when numbers were more than the 100 allowed.

- additional reporting RNZ

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