Measles death toll creeps closer to 70

Another three babies died in the last 24 hours, and measles cases have climbed by another 121, the Ministry of Health reports.

It brings the death toll to 68, closer to the predicted 70 with still no signs of slowing down, and a total 4,581 measles case reported so far.

In Samoa’s Hospitals there are 159 inpatients being treated with measles, 17 of which are children in the intensive care unit. 120 are in Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, and 22 are in Leulumoega Hospital. There are ten hospitalisations across Savaii.

M.O.H reports 84 per cent of a total 1,439 patients have been discharged so far.

Since Saturday, the population has reportedly been vaccinated by another one per cent, bringing the entire immunity level to 90 per cent.

The youngest cohort, children six months to four years, remain the lowest covered group at just 85 per cent, a whole ten points away from the World Health Organisation target for herd immunity.

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But the targeted vulnerable group of child-bearing aged women (20 to 35) have been vaccinated at rates exceeding the Ministry’s expectations.

They report coverage rates of 105 per cent, with 1,077 more women than expected getting their measles shot over the last week.

Guided by the 2016 census, the target group was slightly smaller than the real number of women in that age group, the Ministry stated.

But coverage rates are still preliminary, and the counts are being verified by M.O.H.

The World Health Organisation representative in Samoa, Dr. Rasul Baghirov said given the two or three week time period for the vaccination to build immunity, newly vaccinated people should continue taking extra precautions not to contract measles.

Isolating young children from potential exposure and avoiding large public gatherings is essential.

The Orders of State of Emergency remain in place until at least Monday. Children under 19-years-old are not permitted to attend public gatherings, and vaccination remains mandatory.

Pregnant women are asked to remain home and not attend work, and there may be only one adult guardian with any sick patient in any hospital.

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