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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Measles death toll in Samoa: 78

Samoa's Ministry of Health confirms a total of 5,463 measles cases have been reported to the Disease Surveillance Team since the onset of the outbreak that has killed 78 as of Dec. 21. There were 39 recorded in the last 24 hours, according to a press release from Samoa government.

The public emergency declaration, which was originally set to expire on dec. 14, has been extended until Dec. 29.

There are currently 114 measles cases who are in-patients at all health facilities. Of this, 96 are at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital (TTMH), 2 at Poutasi District Hospital, 1 at Lalomanu District Hospital, 12 at the Leulumoega Rural District Hospital, 1 at the Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital (MTIIH), 1 at Foailalo DH and 1 in Sataua District Hospital. Admissions include 15 critically ill children in ICU/HDU. The total number of measles cases admitted to all hospitals recorded for the outbreak to date is 1,762. Of that, 1,570 (89 percent) patients have been discharged. As of Dec. 19, approximately 94 percent of all eligible people in Samoa have been vaccinated against measles. National Emergency Operation Centre continues to be the focal point providing collaboration and operational coordination amongst all stakeholders, with advice and technical guidance from MOH for the duration of the Emergency Period.

According o the Center for Infection Diseases Center, the outbreak has triggered an outpouring of help from other countries as the small island nation battles measles, and in a related development, New Zealand's government on Dec 14 announced that it would contribute $1 million to the UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) Pacific regional action plan for measles.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement, "This plan offers immediate preventative action. It allows for the flexibility to respond to additional requests from other Pacific nations and offers an efficient way of working regionally." The country had earlier announced funding to support vaccination and response activities in Fiji and Tonga.

In a statement, the WHO said Pacific Island countries and areas are responding to the measles outbreak, with cases reported for the first time since 2014. The activity is part of a resurgence seen in all WHO regions since 2017

Besides the outbreak in Samoa, Tonga declared an outbreak on Oct 22, with the first cluster of cases in teenage rugby players who had traveled to Auckland, New Zealand. Transmission has been occurring in schools, mainly affecting teenage boys and young adults.

As of Dec 2, 440 confirmed or suspected cases have been reported, none of them fatal. Most cases have been reported from Tongatapu island. The WHO added that in 2018, Tonga's health ministry estimated vaccine coverage to be over 95 percent.

Vaccination activities that are part the outbreak response have reached 15,000 people.

In Fiji as of Dec 3, 15 confirmed cases have been reported, 11 of them from or linked to cases in Serua/Namosi subdivision. No deaths have been reported. The WHO and UNICEF estimated that Fiji's measles-containing vaccine coverage for 2018 was 94 percent. In the wake of the outbreak, 100,000 people have been vaccinated, with a second supplemental round underway targeting key risk groups.


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