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30 Nov 2019 | 11:04 PM UTC

Samoa: Government confirms 173 new measles cases in 24-hours December 1 /update 2

Government officials confirm 173 new measles cases in the last 24-hours as of December 1, death toll rises to 48; ensure measles vaccination is up to date

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Event

The Samoan government confirmed 173 new measles cases in the last 24-hours as of 14:00 (local time) on Sunday, December 1. Government officials also confirmed 48 measles-related deaths and 3530 confirmed cases - the majority being children aged 4 and under - since the epidemic began in mid-October this year. Vaccination against the disease is a mandatory legal requirement. Ministry of Health officials report having successfully vaccinated 57,132 people since the Mass Vaccination Campaign began on Wednesday, November 20.

The Samoan government declared a state of emergency on Friday, November 15. Government officials ordered the indefinite closure of all schools, including high schools and universities, and has forbidden public gatherings of children up to the age of 17. The state of emergency also stipulates that no child under the age of 18 can visit any medical facility unless they require medical attention.

While the government said that the situation is not expected to affect business for public servants, some business disruptions are still possible. Further spread of the disease is possible in the near term.

Context

The Samoan Ministry of Health declared a nationwide measles epidemic on Wednesday, October 16. Samoa has a low immunization rate of 31 percent.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. Symptoms of measles are usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over the course of about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days). A vaccine is available.

Advice

Individuals in Samoa are advised to ensure their measles vaccination is up to date (including booster shots) and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the above symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.