Emergency oxygen supply shipped in

Depleting supplies of medical-grade oxygen in the nation's hospitals were replenished on Monday after an emergency mission led by the Government patrol boat, the Nafanua II, picked up a large consignment from Pago Pago.

“There were 96 canisters [of oxygen on board],” said Deputy Police Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai, who confirmed the emergency cargo arrived in Apia around noon on Monday after making the emergency dash on Monday. 

The Samoa Observer understands that the emergency supply was ordered by the Disaster Advisory Committee because supplies in overflowing hospitals were running low.

The Ministry of Health has also reached out to local manufacturers to ensure no future disruption to supply as the epidemic spreads.

The supplies are understood to have been ordered for use in Intensive Care Units as hospitals battle a burgeoning epidemic of patients suffering from measles complications. Laboured breathing is one of the final and most critical symptoms of late-stage measles. 

Calls and text messages to several senior officials at the Ministry were not responded to on Monday afternoon.

But last week, the Red Cross said that the strain from treating patients from measles-related complications was lowering the nation’s blood supplies.

Instead of typical consumption of about 20 pints a week, demand for blood had surged to about 15 pints a day as the Red Cross urged people to donate blood to combat the nation's depleting stocks. 

It is understood that an appeal to the Office of Governor Lolo fast-tracked the provision of supplies from a local emergency manufacturer and fast-tracked usual export approval processes in response to the emergency. 

The newly-acquired $30 million Samoan Government patrol boat, the Nafanua II, which was donated by Australia to help patrol Saoa's economic maritime zone.

The guardian class patrol boat arrived in Apia last month and has a top speed of 20 knots.

The measles epidemic has now claimed 25 lives and infected 2,194 people, more than 120 of whom were diagnosed on Sunday alone, according to the Ministry of Health. 

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