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Two more children dead from measles

Wednesday December 18, 2019 Written by Published in Regional

SAMOA – Two more children have died in Samoa’s measles epidemic, bringing the toll to 75.

 

Both fatalities were under five years old, the age group makes up almost all of the dead from the epidemic.

According to the latest update, 5331 measles cases have been reported in total with 64 new cases in the past 24 hours.

There are also currently 129 measles cases who are in-patients at Samoan health facilities.

Admissions still include 16 critically ill children in intensive care.

When Samoa’s Parliament resumed Tuesday morning, Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi, expressed condolences on behalf of Parliament to the families of the deceased.

He then called on the House to rise for a minute of silence for the victims.

The state of emergency in Samoa, declared due to the epidemic, has been extended to December 29.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said it had been extended so as to administer vaccinations to the remaining population, who are yet to be immunised.

The measles epidemic has been “taxing” on Pacific workers in New Zealand’s horticultural industry, a co-ordinator with the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) says.

Jerf van Beek said many Samoan RSE workers had been affected by the impact of the epidemic on their families back home.

“Funerals are a very important part in the Samoan culture and we know it’s very expensive,” van Beek said.

“We as an industry really want to support our RSE workers who are being affected by it, that they are able to come to New Zealand, earn the money and actually take it back again, under a very taxing situation.”

So far, one Samoan worker in Hawke’s Bay, has contracted measles. This worker was isolated and had since recovered.

All RSE workers are being given free immunisations two weeks before coming to New Zealand, van Beek said.

But some workers had not been not able to take up their seasonal contracts in New Zealand because of radiology resources being diverted in Samoa for the measles epidemic.

Chest x-rays are compulsory for all new seasonal workers and those who have been out of New Zealand for longer than six months.

“Some of those people who actually need an x-ray to come into New Zealand cannot get an x-ray and therefore they cannot obtain a visa,” van Beek said.

“So what we’ve unfortunately had to do is put things in place where they are actually going to other nations where there are no issues with measles and they’re actually recruiting from there.”

American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga announced yesterday that a restriction on public gatherings due to the country’s measles outbreak has now been lifted.

He said he was briefed by health officials and, based on that advice, he had made changes to the public health emergency declaration.

The ban on entry permits has also been lifted but are still subject to certain restrictions.

-Samoa Observer

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