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Death toll rises to 42

Saturday 30 November 2019 | Published in Regional


Samoa’s top health official says the measles epidemic is yet to peak

There have been three more measles-related deaths in Samoa, taking the toll to 42 since the outbreak began last month.

SAMOA – Three more deaths from measles in one day have taken the death toll from the measles epidemic in Samo to 42, as the daily number of new patients diagnosed by the virus continues to surge.

The government said, as of Friday, there were 3149 confirmed cases of the disease, more than 200 of those reported in the last 24 hours.

Nearly 200 people are currently hospitalised with measles, including 20 critically ill children in intensive care.

A mass vaccination campaign is underway with dozens of New Zealand and Australian nurses in Samoa to assist.

There remains a low turnout rate of infants and children aged six months to four years old.

Children in that age bracket account for 38 of the nation’s death toll. The Ministry of Health strongly advises families and parents to bring the children in for vaccination.

Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has taken a harder line – calling for anyone diverting people away from the compulsory vaccination campaign to be jailed.

A controversial ‘healer’ who has promoted the use of filtrated Kangen water to treat measles has reportedly been shut down by authorities.

Samoa’s top health official – the Ministry of Health’s director general Leausa Dr Take Naseri has warned that the epidemic is yet to peak.

Meanwhile, New Zealand will be sending more medical staff and supplies to help Samoa tackle its measles outbreak, including another 100,000 vaccinations.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the latest support package included more medical staff and a machine to support oxygen production.

Among the medical team will be up to 15 intensive care specialists, as well as additional Samoan-speaking doctors and nurses.

Since the mass vaccination campaign began on November 20, 50,068 individuals have been vaccinated.

New Zealand was also looking to provide psychological support for health workers in Samoa, Peters said.

Meanwhile, all denominations under the National Council of Churches in Samoa have been asked to concentrate their services this Sunday on prayers to help overcome the measles crisis.

Secretary of the Council, Reverend Maauga Motu, told the Samoa Observer he met with Prime Minister Tuilaepa to discuss the matter.

“Tuilaepa agreed for all churches to dedicate prayers on Sunday for the epidemic,” he said.

“We shall pray with all honesty and faith to pray for this epidemic to be eradicated from Samoa,” he said.

“It is also to pray for all the families who have lost loved ones to the measles disease. All these children lost to the epidemic are our people.

“And not forgetting those who are affected and currently fighting for their lives against the disease. We ask God for healing upon the sick and give strength to all those suffering.”

“Our God is a God of miracles and wonders. He is the answer to all our problems.

“Our prayers will also include doctors and nurses locally and overseas dealing with treatments because it is not easy the work they do.

“I know that they must be tired from non-stop working to try and save lives and they are also human I know they must be hurting inside about the increasing number of deaths.