Samoa declares state of emergency as measles outbreak claims lives

Report
from Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Published on 17 Nov 2019 View Original

Key points:

  • The Samoan Government ordered children under the age of 17 not to attend public gatherings

  • Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga made proof of measles immunisation a condition of entry for visitors in American Samoa

  • In Tonga all government primary schools and kindergartens have been shut

Samoa's Government has declared a state of emergency, ordering all schools, including the National University of Samoa, to be closed as a deadly measles outbreak continues to spread.

Since Samoan officials announced a measles epidemic in October, seven suspected measles-related deaths have been recorded.

The majority of cases have involved children younger than four years old.

The Samoan Government ordered children under the age of 17 not to attend public gatherings in an attempt to stop the virus spreading.

It also made vaccinations a mandatory legal requirement for all people of Samoa who have not yet received a vaccination injection.

Measles is a highly infectious airborne disease that spreads easily through breathing, coughing and sneezing. It typically causes a rash, fever and white spots in the mouth.

It is believed the outbreak started in New Zealand before spreading to Samoa. Western Australia has also been affected with one of the worst outbreaks in years.

Neighbouring American Samoa announced a public health emergency over a measles outbreak on Thursday.

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga said everyone travelling from Tonga and Samoa to the US territory must provide proof of measles immunisation as a condition of entry.

Visitor who fail to provide a proof of measles immunisation will be denied entry to American Samoa.

Samoa Airways chief executive Tupuivao Seiuli said it was vital that all visitors travelling to American Samoa through Samoa comply with these new conditions to reduce further disruption to their travel plans and assist neighbouring countries in their efforts to contain the recent outbreak of measles.

In Tonga, all government primary schools and kindergartens have been shut in an effort to limit the spread of measles sweeping through the South Pacific, the Government announced on Thursday.

Education Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said schools would be closed until at least November 25.

ABC/AFP

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