State of emergency draws mixed response

Members of the public have shown mixed reactions regarding the timing of the declaration of Samoa's state of emergency last Friday evening.

The state of emergency comes after about 700 reported cases of six measles confirmed deaths mostly children under 2 years old. 

A press release from Health states that, as of this week, there are 716 clinically suspected measles cases reported. Some 98 suspected patients have been admitted to the Motootua hospital with 15 admitted with the Intensive Care Unit. 

Members of the public have also expressed concerns over the type of measles virus overtaking Samoa at the moment, comparing it in severity to that which was around during their youth. 

One of these include 67-year-old father from Sauano, Fagaloa saying the virus is definitely not the same as it had been. 

"I don’t know if this is measles or whatever this illness is, in those days we could just take the kids for a dip in the sea for the rash and just keep them hydrated," said Mapusu’a Tagiilima.

"The virus is dangerous and this is the number one disease claiming the lives of our children nowadays."

He told Samoa Observer that the Ministry of Health should have acted quicker, to prevent the virus from spreading like wildfire.

"The virus should have been combated a long time ago; they should have declared this state of emergency back when it just started," said Tagiilima.

"This is because children are dying and I am telling you this is a different kind of measles here in Samoa.

"If this is how fast the disease is spreading, those babies will not be the last to be claimed by measles."

Tagiilima said so far, only one of his grandchildren have been affected by the disease.

Another father from Sa'anapu, Lepou Maele, expressed similar concerns and added that Samoa is in need of great help and commended the help Australia and New Zealand are currently pouring in.

"I know the Ministry should have pushed for the promotions and awareness of Measles symptoms and risks included to make sure it does not get to this point.

"But right now Samoa needs a lot of help, and luckily we have overseas aids coming in."

Other members of the public whom the Samoa Observer spoke to agreed that although the declaration of the state of emergency for Samoa was delayed, the primary responsibility lies with the parents.

These include holding the children indoors, staying away from the sun, and far away from large crowds.

Measles is one of the most contagious of all infectious diseases. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

To accommodate the expected increasing numbers of patients, the old Emergency and Outpatient Ward at Motootua has been turned into a makeshift isolation facility to accommodate those severely affected.

The public is advised to utilise private medical clinics to avoid contacting the virus when they come to the hospital.

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