Last measles patients discharged

Samoa is now free of measles inpatients, with the last children discharged last Friday, the Ministry of Health reports. 

The last measles patients – an 11 month old and a one-year-old child –  were discharged from Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital on Friday, and there have been no new cases of the disease reported to surveillance since earlier this month.

Deputy Director of Public Health, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen, told the Samoa Observer there has been “no change” in the measles epidemic situation since Saturday, when there were 5,707 cases altogether of measles since the epidemic broke out.

But it is too soon to officially declare the end of the epidemic, with the incubation period of three weeks marking the appropriate time to wait after the last reported measles case before making any definitive calls.

Tagaloa also advised that a plan to contend with the potential arrival of yet another contagious disease, the 2019-nCoV coronavirus spreading from Wuhan in China, will be ready by Thursday or Friday.

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The news comes on the advent of a raging debate in Parliament over whether to begin a commission of inquiry into the emergency measles caused.

The Salega Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Va’ai accused the Government of being negligent, claiming they ignored the alarm bells about the measles epidemic, and not preparing a Pandemic Emergency Response plan early enough. 

“This is what transparent governments do; they carry out these commissions to find out the truth,” Olo told the House. 

This week has also seen the preliminary results of the school leaver’s exams, with a significant drop in pass rates partly blamed on the measles epidemic.

Just 55.2 per cent of students have passed well enough to enrol in the National University of Samoa Foundation programmes, down from 55.7 per cent last year.

A statement from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture blamed “unsettledness” in 2019 for the year's poor results, from both the Pacific Games preparations leading up to July and the state of emergency resulted in school closures and the final week of exams cancelled.

“Given the unsettledness experienced by everyone as a result of ‘not knowing’ what/whether/when the National Examinations was to be held, the final turnout of S.S.L.C. students to sit their exams was praiseworthy,” the Ministry said.

“Given all the dramas in 2019, this decrease can be expected.”

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