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Saturday 13 February 2016 | Published in Regional


PAGO PAGO – American Samoa’s Lieutenant Governor, Lemanu Peleti Mauga, says the territory now has confirmed cases of the Zika virus and has issued an alert.

Twenty-five samples were sent off island this week for testing and Lemanu has reported that four are positive and one of the cases is a pregnant woman.

Lemanu has issued a declaration that the Zika virus is present in the territory leading to heightened cooperation of local government entities as well as US government support from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Unified Command Centre has also been activated and overseen by the Health Department and the LBJ Medical Centre.

Already in the territory since last week is CDC medical officer Dr Thai Chen, who confirmed that additional resources will be available to American Samoa, with more staff arriving over the weekend.

He told state run television that CDC have already planned for a shipment of emergency laboratory supplies to arrive next week.

He also added that additional resources being planned for shipment to the territory includes prevention kits for pregnant women to help reduce their exposure to potential Zika virus transmission.

Cook Islands health officials says the country remains a safe haven from the mosquito borne Zika virus, but there is no room for complacency.

Zika is affecting Samoa, American Samoa and in Tonga the government has declared an epidemic after reports hundreds could be infected with the virus.

The Cooks community health services director, Dr Neti Herman, says there are no suspected cases of the virus in the country, but a proactive approach is needed to ensure this continues.

She says they are using media to get their message across and are continuing with border control measures and encouraging people to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

Dr Herman said the health ministry is considering reactivating Operation Namu, which was a nationwide campaign in 2002 to fight dengue by clearing mosquito breeding and resting sites. - RNZI