Three measles patients left at Moto'otua Hospital

There are just three people in hospital with measles, the Ministry of Health reports, and no new cases of the disease since January 12.

Deputy Director General for Public Health, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen, said the official recommendation, on when to declare the epidemic over, is at least three weeks from the most recent confirmed case: the measles incubation period.

But the Ministry of Health has yet to decide on exactly how it will call the end of the epidemic.

There were 30 new cases between December 29 and January 5, and ten new cases between January 6 and 12. The three patients are all at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital.

After a major mass vaccination campaign, 95 per cent of the eligible population of Samoans is now vaccinated against measles, and likely all have passed the three week period where their immunity was building.

Small pockets of the population remain vulnerable to measles: children under six months old who are too young to be vaccinated, elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised ill people.

So far 5,707 people have been infected with measles, and 83 people died. As of December 27, 1,835 people were hospitalised because of the disease. The Ministry of Health has not updated that figure since then.

Across the Pacific, the measles epidemic continues to spread, with some pockets of good news.

In Fiji, the Ministry of Health says the outbreak in Serua/Namosi that infected 12 people total is now over, while the outbreak in the Central Division is ongoing with 28 cases as of January 9. 

Tonga is reporting 630 cases of measles, 90 per cent of which are on Tongatapu. There have been 99 hospitalisations and no deaths, as of January 10. There were two cases of measles in Kiribati.

Neighbouring American Samoa remains on lockdown with ten cases of measles, and a vaccination campaign ongoing.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has delivering measles containing vaccines to the Pacific Islands affected by the epidemic, and those who have not reported cases of measles yet.

The Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, the Marshal Islands, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have received a total of 179,860 vaccines out of 1,276,360 delivered across the region. 

Samoa alone received 265,500 vaccines. 

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