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No new deaths as expert says epidemic 'waning'

There were no fatalities from measles overnight as a leading New Zealand expert says the rate at which the disease  is spreading across the country now appears to be “waning” in Samoa.

Some 85 new cases of measles were infected in the past 24 hours, according to an update from the National Emergency Operations Centre. 

That represents the fourth consecutive day that the number of new infections recorded have been below 100. Over 200 daily new infections were regularly recorded last month.

“I think [the epidemic is] waning,” said Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris a vaccinologist from the University of Auckland.

“There’s going to be more deaths to come. But it seems to me to be steadily heading downwards. It’s like a mountain slope [on] its way down”.

Dr. Petousis-Harris said while the trajectory of the epidemic suggested the disease had “been some time to run” it appeared that the Government’s mass vaccination campaign, including last week’s door-to-door initiative had made an impact. 

She nominated poverty and timely access to healthcare as among the reasons that Samoa could expect more fatalities despite the epidemic appearing to have peaked. 

There remain a total of 18 critically children in Intensive Care Units across the nation’s hospitals. 

A total of 5,080 measles cases have been reported since Samoa declared an official epidemic in mid-October. 

There are currently 169 people receiving in-patient treatment for measles across the nation’s hospitals: 127 at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital; four at Poutasi District Hospital; one at Lalomanu District Hospitasl , 24 at the Leulumoega Rural District Hospital, 5 at the Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital; five at Foailalo District Hospital and three at Safotu District Hospital. 

The total number of measles cases admitted to all hospitals recorded for the outbreak to date is 1,607. Of that, 1,366 (85%) patients have been discharged, which represents a slight improvement in patients’ recovery rate.

Dr. Petousis-Harris predicted three months ago that the arrival of measles on Samoan shores was ‘inevitable’.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi at a press conference on Thursday said the general feeling is the epidemic is slowly “calming down”.

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