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Swine flu fears also threaten cruise ship industry

By Alan Ah Mu

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 28, 2009) – A leading church may be asked to consider postponing its annual conference due to the swine flu pandemic.

A recommendation for the Methodist Church to defer its annual conference this year to help stop the spread of H1N1 flu was put to Cabinet by the Ministry of Health.

The Methodists are due to hold their conference next month.

But Cabinet has decided to trust conference organisers to take the necessary precautions, Chief Executive Officer of Health, Palanaitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe, said.

Their recommendation was a "technical position" said Mrs Toelupe "So Government knows those are the priority issues in prevention."

They had also recommended to Cabinet that the annual conference of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa held in May be deferred, she said.

Government Secretariat in its 26 June report says Health also recommended cruise ships be stopped from coming to Samoan for the next two months until further notice.

"After deep deliberations, Cabinet has decided for the Ministry to reconsider its proposal and that for the Ministry of Health to consult with the Methodist Church and also with local agents for cruise ships to strengthen their preventative measures by advising people with possible swine influenza symptoms against travelling to Samoa," the secretariat says.

Samoa has had two cases of H1N1, both of whom were visitors who have left the country after receiving treatment.

Mrs Toelupe said the ministry has not had contact with the Methodist church about the recommendation.

But she said the church understands well the precautions required since they worked together on the first case of H1N1.

That patient was quarantined at a motel belonging to the church whose staff were also isolated until the all clear was given.

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