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Samoa takes proactive Zika action

Tuesday 9 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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APIA – Various government ministries and NGOs are combining their resources to clear mosquito breeding sites around the country in a persistent effort to stamp out any possible zika virus carrying mosquitoes.

The government ministries include Health, Education, Samoa Tourism Authority and the Samoa Hotel Association.

“The effort is for them to carry out the cleaning and spraying operations at wherever they are operating around the country, so that hopefully within the next few months, we would have cleared the mosquitoes breeding sites,” the chief executive officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri said.

The Health Department said it will again work with other departments as they did during the dengue and chikungunya outbreaks to get families to clean their own environments and get rid of mosquito breeding sites.

In Tonga, the Government has declared a Zika epidemic after confirming two people have contracted the mosquito-borne virus, with 265 suspected cases.

Tonga’s Health Minister, Saia Piukala, said three New Zealand-based Tongans who travelled to the islands for a holiday had returned home and also tested positive.

Piukala told RNZI that the 265 suspected cases were from those who had sought treatment for acute fever, skin rashes and flu-like symptoms.

He said 35 specimens had been sent overseas for further analysis.

Meanwhile, reports from New Zealand say that the suspected zika virus carrier that has been linked to Samoa was a 46-year-old man from American Samoa who travelled through Apia on his way to New Zealand.

American Samoa health authorities insist that there is no zika case in the territory even though the Department of Health has recorded 25 suspected cases of the Zika virus, but complications in the process of sending lab specimens to Honolulu to test for the virus has caused delays.

Radio New Zealand reports that the delay in sending specimens overseas is because the Honolulu lab which American Samoa uses has not been paid.

- Talamua