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Tourists told to get vaccinated; country on "high alert"

Travelers to and from Samoa have been "strongly recommended" to get immunised at least 2 weeks before travelling here in the wake of the measles epidemic gripping the country. 

A Samoa Tourism Authority statement released last night said national authorities are on "high alert" and have been offering free vaccinations to everyone.

Earlier in the week, health officials announced three related deaths linked to the contagious virus with 15 confirmed cases and suspected cases shooting up to 314.

The Authority's Chief Executive Officer, Fa'amatuainu Lenata’i Suifua, has also urged the tourism industry members to be on alert in taking precautionary measures.

"We’ve prompted our Tourism Sector in taking heed of public health advices for the sake of the guests and staff, by enforcing hygienic practices, using face masks, avoiding overcrowded public gatherings, and making sure all are immunised and kept well informed," he said.

"Especially leading up to the holiday season, we are actually continuing business as usual with increased awareness on the precautionary measures for our situation here at home.

"Tourism is the mainstay of our economy with many families depending on the industry for their livelihoods, so we ask everyone to be cautious and wary at all times.” 

Fa'amatuainu assured that the Authority will continue to carry out its destination promotions, but this time, with preventative measures in place.

"The Tourism Industry members are currently well equipped to respond confidently in such circumstances as done in the past, where accommodation providers, tour operators, restaurants, car rental businesses, tourism site owners and other services are all on the alert to provide needed assistance and assure safety for all," the STA statement reads.

The three deaths so far suspected to be from measles, is a 14-month-old, an 8-month-old and a 37-year-old are all suspected to be measles-related fatalities, which are currently awaiting laboratory testing. 

The Ministry of Health recently stated that 79 per cent (249) of the suspected cases reside on Upolu and 18 per cent (57) in Savai'i. Ninety-one or 29 per cent of the 314 suspected cases have been admitted to hospital while 96 per cent are admitted at the TTMH with one transferred. A majority of the admissions are less than 5-years-old with three pregnant mothers (two at TTM Hospital and one at MTII Hospital in Savai'i).

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