Measles crisis: 20 deaths; diagnoses soar

Over 200 people were diagnosed with measles on Friday alone, one who died, as Government data shows the virus is suspected to have now infected 1650 people as it spreads across the nation. 

The Government now says 20 measles-related deaths have now been recorded across the nation. 

The new release by the National Emergency Operations Center states a total of 1644 measles cases that have been reported to the Disease Surveillance Team.

That represents a 40 per cent increase since the last update which was provided on Monday or, in absolute terms, an additional 470 suspected cases. 

Out of the 1644 measles cases recorded to date, 122 of those are laboratory confirmed measles cases.

Some 89 per cent of measles cases are in Upolu, mostly from the Vaimauga West and Faleata West.

Some 92 per cent of the current hospital admissions are children, including 11 in critical conditions who are receiving treatment  in the Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U.)

Those aged between 1-4 years old are the most affected with the total measles cases recorded in that demographic of 517; 10 of them had died.

The next most affected group is between the ages of 6-11 months, with total measles cases of 231: four of them have also died.

The next most affected age group includes 20-29 year olds, with a total of 233 cases.

This is followed by 156 total measles cases recorded for the age group between 15-19.

Age groups of 0-5 months old and 5-9 years old are at similar numbers of 145 and 146 cases respectively. Five of the 20 recorded deaths belong to the 0-5 months old age group.

There are 145 total measles cases recorded for ages above 30 while another 29 cases are recorded with ages missing.

The release states that 147 measles cases are being cared for at all health facilities around Samoa.

120 at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital at Moto’otua and 1 in the Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital at Tuasivi.

In district hospitals, two are receiving medical care at Sataua District Hospital, one at Foailalo District Hospital and 23 at the Leulumoega Rural District Hospital.

This brings the total number of measles admissions recorded for the epidemic to 628 in total.

Since Tuesday this week, a mass vaccination campaign ordered following a declaration of the national state of emergency has made measles vaccinations available at the Samoa Family Health Association, and in Community Health Centres in Faleolo, Lufilufi, Saanapu and Satupaitea.

Additional sites were added on Thursday, including Moata’a EFKS, Magiagi EFKS, Falefitu Primary School,  Mynas Old Supermarket, Katoliko Taufusi, Fagalii EFKS Hall, Katoliko Vailele Hall, Vaimea Primary School Hall, Maota Manuleleua Lauese Hall, Katoliko MOAMOA Hall, Fale Komiti Lepea, EFKS Toamua Hall, EFKS Nuufou Hall, EFKS Vaitele Hall, Metotisi Vaipoto Hall, Metotisi Aele Hall.

Also on Thursday, new orders of the state of emergency were issued by government that included making vaccinations mandatory. Those that “actively discourage” or “prevents in any way members of the community from receiving their vaccination”” will also fall foul of the declaration. 

The new orders also include a reminder that vaccinations are firstly compulsory for children aged six months to 19 years old and non-pregnant females aged 20 to 35.

Men in that age group and everyone 36 and older will be vaccinated once the prioritised age groups have been vaccinated.

Unvaccinated pregnant women or those who are unsure of their status are banned from going to their workplace, either in the private or public sector, the order states.

Public gatherings, which previously were banned to all children up to age 17, are now also off limits to 18 and 19 year olds who are also no longer permitted to travel between Upolu and Savaii.

To help avoid the spread of measles, wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitiser, and avoiding touching your nose, eyes or mouth. Cover coughing or sneezing with tissue or sleeves – not hands.

Avoid close contact like kissing, hugging or sharing food or utensils with anyone who is sick.

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