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Island nation of Samoa entangled in 1st-ever COVID outbreak

The island nation of Samoa is in the midst of its first COVID-19 outbreak, after detecting "its first-ever case of community transmission last week," The Associated Press reports.

The outbreak was initially discovered after a woman leaving for travel tested positive; a "cascade" of positive tests followed, AP writes, indicating "the virus likely had been spreading undetected for days or even weeks."

The island's 200,000 people have been under lockdown since Saturday, with schools, stores, and unessential services closed. Public gatherings are also banned. The order is scheduled to last until Tuesday, though many believe it will be extended.

Saturday saw 95 new cases, while another 85 arose on Sunday. Over 2,200 tests have been administered since Friday, with only 15 of the 196 active cases imported from overseas, per the latest government statement available Monday.

Though Samoa and many of its Pacific island neighbors were able to avoid COVID-19 outbreaks for the last two years, the highly-transmissible Omicron variant proved itself a different beast. "[O]ne by one the island nations have been hit," notes AP. Samoa has previously experienced coronavirus scares and lockdowns, but has "managed to avoid any community outbreaks until now."

Approximately 65 percent of Samoans are fully vaccinated. Read more at The Associated Press.