Tonga Measles Outbreak 2019 - Situation Report #1


Case Numbers

As of 17th October 2019 seven laboratory confirmed cases and eight epidemiologically linked cases of measles have occurred in Tonga. There are no other cases pending currently.


The index case and 13 other suspected and confirmed cases are members of a rugby group which visited New Zealand. The group consisted of 68 people made up of schoolboys (60) as well as team officials (8). Boys came from the following schools and locations: Tonga College 'Atele (TCA), Tupou College Toloa (TCT) (a boarding school), Tonga High School (THS) and a small number from other schools on Tongatapu and the islands of Vava'u, Ha'apai and 'Eua.

The index case ("WF" 16y/o M) became unwell in NZ with high fever, rash and other symptoms suggestive of measles. He was taken for medical attention on 30th September 2019. (date of onset unknown at this stage) Samples (blood and NP swab) were collected and tested in NZ. Advice from the index case is that the samples tested positive for measles. No formal notification has been received by the Tonga MOH from New Zealand MOH about the case.

The index case was advised not to travel and remained in NZ before returning to Tonga on 5th October.
The rest of the group returned to Tonga on Tuesday 1st October 2019.

During Tuesday 8th, Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th of October 12 boys (aged 15 or 16 y/o) from the group sought medical attention at the Vaiola Hospital, presenting with fever and rash. (See linelist) Dates of onset of symptoms for these cases ranged from 6th to 9th October. Another suspected case presented in Vava'u.

Communicable Disease staff of the MOH were notified by Vaiola Hospital clinical staff of the presentations for AFR. The Epidemic Task Force was convened comprising public health, clinician and laboratory representatives and met on Wednesday 9th October. At this stage, the task force members were not aware of the index case.