Sixteen suspected measle cases, Ministry awaits confirmation

Samples of suspected measles cases in Samoa have been sent to Australia for urgent testing.

The dispatching of the samples to Melbourne comes on the back of concerns by local health authorities of a potential measles outbreak, reportedly leading to the quarantine of patients at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole (T.T.M.) Hospital at Moto'otua.

The Sunday Samoan has been told 16 patients with suspected cases are admitted in the hospital – while others who have also gone in with the symptoms – were advised to stay isolated at home and have constant intake of fluids while awaiting their test results.

Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) Director General, Leausa Take Naseri, told a press conference last week that 38 samples were sent to Melbourne for testing with the results expected in about three weeks. 

Leausa did not give an update on the situation when he was contacted by this newspaper, saying he was busy and hung up.

But Dr. Robert Thomsen – also from the Ministry – when contacted by this newspaper emphasised that “those cases are suspected cases” and he is not up to date on their current status.

It is understood the 16 suspected cases are mainly children and out of the 38 samples that were sent to Australia for testing, most of them belong to children under four years of age.

ReliefWeb, the United Nations humanitarian information portal, on Friday advised that the MOH had announced in an October 9 press conference in Apia that a suspected measles case transmitted from Auckland, New Zealand has been brought to their attention.

“The MoH further reported if lab results sent to Australia were positive, an outbreak would be declared,” the advise stated.

“The Government of Samoa plans to set up isolation facilities for patients with measles, creating space in Apia for a children's pop-up vaccination clinic to speed up herd immunity, and extra airport passenger surveillance. World Health Organisation warns against unnecessary air travel to Samoa.” 

Measles can be transmitted through the air. Contagious particles of the virus can remain in the air for hours after an infected person leaves an area. Symptoms typically begin eight to 10 days after initial exposure to the virus, and then develop in stages, causing visible symptoms.

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