Death toll 62, vaccinations climb

The toll of the measles epidemic has climbed once more as the virus claimed two more lives and 165 more contracted it as the Government claimed major headway in its stepped-up mass vaccination drive. 

The rise in the national death to 62 came as the Government shut down the entire nation on Thursday to attempt to deliver a decisive blow to the epidemic which has ravaged Samoa for nearly two months. 

The two new deaths were both infants: one aged 6 to 11 months of age and one between 1 and 4 years of age, an official update from the National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.) on Thursday revealed. 

Hospital admissions for the disease includes 19 children in critical condition; three pregnant women, and one new mother across Intensive Care Units in the nation’s hospitals. 

The total number of people reported to have contracted measles since asn epidemic was declared by the Ministry of Health declared an outbreak in mid-October now stands at 4217 people.

A total of 172 people are currently receiving in-patient treatment across the nation’s hospitals.

The new figures come as the Government continues to make progress on Samoa’s heretofore dismal vaccination rates and as it took drastic action on Thursday: a two-day shutdown of public services, commerce, and the road networks.

The entire country was today and will tomorrow be focused on the mass vaccination campaign the Government inaugurated more than a fortnight ago on November 20.  

Public sector employees, with some exceptions, were enlisted to help see out the campaign on Thursday; the closure of the nation’s roads was designed to provide them speedy passages into villages. 

Fixed vaccination sites - excepting hospitals - were closed on Thursday were closed as the nation instead shifted its entire focus to entirely mobile vaccination clinics. Unvaccinated people in villages were encouraged to signal their status to mobile units by tying a red rag or tie outside their homes. 

The Government, which recently lifted age restrictions on vaccines entirely, has had its resources boosted significantly by the recent arrival of resources and personnel from Britain, America and French Polynesia says it has made a major dent in the country’s unvaccinated population.

As the figures stand the Government says it has now vaccinated across the entire nation: 76% of infants and children aged 6 months to 4 years old 88% of children aged 5 to 19 years old 85% of women aged 20 to 35 years old 56% of the remaining population in Samoa

That represents a significant lift of six percentage points in two significant categories in the past day: women between 20 and 35 years of age and the country’s remaining population. 

Of those receiving in-patient care 145 are at the national Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital; two are at the Poutasi District Hospital; one is at Lalomanu District Hospital; 16 are at the Leulumoega Rural District Hospital; six are at the Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital; the Foailalo District Hospital and the Safotu District Hospital both have one admitted patient each.  

The total number of measles cases admitted to all hospitals recorded for the outbreak to date is 1,310. Of that, 1,076 or 82 per cent have been discharged, the Government said, which represents a one percentage point improvement in the last day. 

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