Asia Today: Samoa leader appeals for calm after COVID case

The leader of the small Pacific nation of Samoa has appealed for calm after the country reported it’s first positive test for the coronavirus, although a second test on the same patient returned a negative result

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The leader of the small Pacific nation of Samoa appealed for calm Thursday after the country reported it’s first positive test for the coronavirus, although a second test on the same patient returned a negative result.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi addressed the nation live on television and radio, urging people to remain vigilant with their virus precautions.

Samoa was among a dwindling handful of nations to have not reported a single case of the virus.

According to the Samoa Observer, the prime minister said the patient was a sailor who had been staying in a quarantine facility since flying in from New Zealand on Friday. He said the sailor returned a positive test four days after arriving, but then a second test on Thursday returned a negative result.

The prime minister said the Cabinet would meet Thursday to decide on any changes to the current virus settings, the Observer reported. Samoa is home to about 200,000 people.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea added more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities began enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas. The 343 new cases recorded Thursday by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency took the country’s total to 29,654 with 498 deaths. Elevated physical distancing rules took effective in the greater Seoul area, the southern city of Gwangju and some parts of the eastern Gangwon province. In those areas, gatherings of more than 100 people during rallies, concerts and other events is prohibited, while audiences at sporting events and religious services are limited to 30-50% of capacity. Dancing at nightclubs and drinking at karaoke rooms is also prohibited.