Police on the beat facing measles heat
The nation's Police, currently on the front-line of both maintaining a state of emergency and public order generally, are proving to be one of the groups most vulnerable to measles infections.
The Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, told the Samoa Observer that the epidemic has claimed some children of members of the Police force.
Fuiavailiii said that other Police Officers have been infected with measles.
To ensure the Officers are protected from measles, the Commissioner said all of those who are being deployed to roles at 40 clinics around the country have to get vaccinated before they are sent.
“It is also important that they are trained and educated [about] what to do and what not to do,” he said.
“Further on, to protect their families they have to get shots and wear masks.
“A lot of them have children and families and we don’t want to spread it within their families because we have had Police Officers that had their children lost to this.
“After all they are subjected to the virus and there is always the risk of them [contracting measles and] taking it home to their families.”
The Commissioner commended the courage from law enforcement officers who continue to put on their uniforms everyday to work around the clock knowing their lives are at risk.
He pointed out that aside from their efforts in the measles epidemic, Police are still obliged to fight crime on top of their duties to maintain the current state of emergency.
“We cannot turn our backs [to] those crimes,” he said.
He explained Police are trying to balance the force's duties so that enough Officers are being deployed to clinics and enough remain on standby to respond to reported crimes from the public.
To enable Samoa Police Service in doing their work, the Commissioner acknowledged the support from the government of Australia for providing the Nafanua II patrol boat and buses to transport Police to their posts.
Since the state of emergency's declaration, the Nafanua has made two trips to American Samoa to get supplies of oxygen tanks.
“We can’t thank the Australian Government enough for providing this support that is enabling Police to provide service for our country,” he said.
“We are now moving from enforcement side and are now towards humanitarian work.”