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High anxiety’ in Samoa

Thursday 28 November 2019 | Published in Regional

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Another child dies as Kiwi medic says situation is ‘incredibly serious’ There has been another measles death in Samoa bringing the total to 33. Sixteen of those to die were aged between one and four years, seven were between six and 11 months– and six were under six months old.

SAMOA – There’s been another death in Samoa’s measles epidemic, bringing the toll to 33.

In the last 24 hours another 249 measles cases have been reported, bringing the total to more than 2600 since October.

Meanwhile, 193 people with the disease remain in hospital.

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

The government said on Wednesday 33,085 people had so far been immunised in a compulsory mass vaccination campaign launched under a state of emergency.

New Zealand medical staff working in Samoa have said the number of sick children being taken to hospitals continues to rise. A team of 10 doctors, nurses, and support staff are helping at a district hospital on Upolu and there are also 30 New Zealand vaccination nurses helping with the mass immunisation.

The medical assistance team’s leader Scott Wilson told RNZ the situation was “incredibly serious”.

“We’ve seen a recent spike in the deaths which are obviously a very sad statistic but we’re seeing more and more sick children coming every day to this hospital and unfortunately the number just continues to be rising,” he said.

He said there was a heightened sense of anxiety amongst everyone working in the health sector in Samoa at the moment.

“There’s been a lot of emotion, both good and bad. Some children turn the corner and leave, often with their family unit, and we’re so grateful to see them recover,” he said.

“Other children, we resuscitate them and have to send them off to a higher dependency unit and again there’s always tears when they go.”

Dr Wilson said the team were trained to deal with these kinds of situations but seeing it on the scale in Samoa was another level.

“It takes a toll, we’re still human beings, many of us are parents and it is really tough,” he said.

Dr Wilson said his team would be leaving Samoa on Sunday and other teams from New Zealand would be arriving over the next few days.

He said the New Zealand contingent had integrated well with the local staff, who had been doing an amazing job.

-RNZ