No measles deaths on Boxing Day, infections up slightly
There were no reported measles deaths on the day after Christmas despite a slight uptick in the rate of new infections, the National Emergency Operation Centre reported in a statement on Friday afternoon.
The Ministry of Health has now confirmed the total number of people to be infected with measles has now reached 5,634 cases. That figure increased by 22 over the past day, which was itself an increase from a statistical low in the new infection rate achieved on Christmas Day when just nine new people contracted the virus.
Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccinologist from the University of Auckland, told the Samoa Observer on Thursday it was likely that new infections were being spread within geographically isolated pockets of the community which had been missed during the Government's mass vaccination campaign.
Despite the Government achieving a target immunisation rate of 95 per cent, new cases continuing to spread within these small groups would likely cause the epidemic to continue for a few weeks more, she said.
“Given there are still quite a few new cases each day it is likely that those who remain unprotected are living close together which allows the virus to continue to be spread until most people have been infected or vaccinated," Dr. Petousis-Harris said.
Nonetheless, the rate of new infections is less than 10 per cent of the levels recorded at the peak of the crisis in late November when 250 new cases a day were reported.
At the height of the epidemic in late November, there were over 1000 new infections in less than five days.
The national death toll from the viral outbreak remains at 81, while there nine critically ill children remain in the Intensive Care Unit/High Dependency Unit at Moto'otua Hospital.
Currently, there are 46 measles cases cared for in all health facilities around Samoa. 40 are in Moto'otua Hospital, 2 at the Leulumoega District Hospital, 1 at Poutasi District Hospital, 1 at Lalomanu District Hospital.
Only two cases are admitted at the Savaii Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital.
The most recent reported death was a child under five years old, who passed away on Christmas day.