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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-11:51:00A.M.






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Regional News

Samoa measles surge: 114 diagnosed in a day

APIA (Samoa Observer/Pacnews) — With an additional 114 suspected infections in 24 hours, the total number of suspected measles cases in Samoa has now risen to 1,174 as the epidemic surges across the nation.

That is an additional 458 cases from last Monday. Another child, a seven-month-old from Savaii, died in the last 24 hours of suspected measles-related complications, bringing the death toll to 17.

The National Emergency Coordination Office or NEOC reports 189 cases are currently receiving hospital treatment, 159 of which are at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Moto’otua.

Leulumoega District Hospital is treating 22 cases and Malietoa Tanumafili Hospital has three while five are in other rural district hospitals.

Some 98 percent of cases are on Upolu, with Vaimauga West and Faleata West with the highest concentration.

The NEOC has not provided any more details about the current state of the outbreak.

It was also revealed on Tuesday that the government’s planned national mass immunization strategy was not yet ready as expected. The Samoa Red Cross Society in Tuana’imato turned away hundreds of people because ministry staff, who were to administer the vaccine, were not yet ready to perform their mass vaccination strategy as expected.

Despite this shortage, the Samoa Observer learned that in October, soon after the epidemic was announced, a New Zealand Medical Assistance Team was assembled and readied to arrive in Samoa if requested by the Samoan government.

Despite the offer of help being made available it was not taken up.

Measles is a highly contagious disease, and even today remains one of the leading causes of childhood mortality worldwide. The vaccine, introduced in 1963, is the only prevention of the disease, has contributed to 84 percent less deaths globally.

American Samoa has closed its borders to unvaccinated people, requiring proof of immunization before entry. The old maternity ward in TTM Hospital is issuing vaccine certifications for travelers for $10, and full immunization records for $40.

Samoa has not yet closed its borders to unvaccinated travelers.