Samoa SHUTS DOWN as Prime Minister takes drastic step to close all businesses and services after five more people died from measles taking death toll to 60
- Samoan PM has declared a state of emergency because of measles outbreak
- Businesses and government schools will close on Thursday and Friday
- Residents must stay home and hang red cloth outside if they require vaccination
- The death toll from the measles outbreak sits at 60 and is expected to rise
PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi declared a state of emergency
The Samoan prime minister has ordered unprecedented action to stop the spread of measles currently ravaging his nation.
On Thursday and Friday, all Samoan businesses and government services will close to allow a ‘door to door mass vaccination campaign’ in a last-gasp effort to improve immunity to the disease.
Having already declared a state of emergency, PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has asked government workers to join with local and foreign health workers with the vaccination.
Residents must stay home, and hang a red cloth or flag outside their homes if they have family members who require vaccination.
A door to door mass vaccination campaign will be held for all Samoan residents who require the treatment
On Wednesday, health officials announced that the death toll has climbed to 60 and it’s expected to rise
‘The public is hereby advised to tie a red cloth or red flag in front of their houses and near the road to indicate that family members have not been vaccinated,’ the statement read.
‘The red mark makes it easier for the teams to identify households for vaccinations.’
The shutdown will run from 7:00am to 5:00pm on Thursday and Friday.
On Wednesday, health officials issued another grim update, advising that five more Samoans have died from the disease.
A total of 60 people have been killed by measles in Samoa since the epidemic began in October – most of whom are babies and children under four.
A total of 60 people have been killed by measles in Samoa since the epidemic began in October (stock)
Official figured from the Samoan government released Tuesday show 55 fatalities due to the measles outbreak. This has now risen to 60
Another 18 infants are critically ill in hospital and the crisis shows no sign of slowing, with 153 new cases in the past 24 hours.
It now means 3,881 people have been infected on the Pacific island, which is home to just 200,000 residents.
The number of Samoans to have caught the disease has ticked over 4000, meaning more than one in every 50 locals have contracted measles in the outbreak.
Reports from Samoa suggest that many people have stopped turning up for work, while schools have closed and church services have been cancelled.
It now means 3,881 people have been infected on the Pacific island, which is home to just 200,000 residents (stock)
WHO experts said anti-vaccination propaganda was reversing decades of efforts to eradicate the infectious disease
WHO experts said anti-vaccination propaganda was reversing decades of efforts to eradicate the infectious disease.
Jose Hagan, WHO medical officer for the western Pacific, said it was a grim reminder of the danger posed by ‘probably the most infectious disease we know of’.
‘Unfortunately the case (to) fatality rate of measles is much higher than people realise,’ he told Radio New Zealand.
‘This is quite a severe disease and we just aren’t used to seeing it, so it comes as quite a surprise when we see how fatal it can be.’
He said the fatality rate in Samoa was less than two per cent, but it has been known to reach five per cent in developing countries.
Mr Hagen said increased access to measles vaccines was estimated to have saved 21million lives over the past 20 years.
‘But we are starting to have a slide back and there are outbreaks happening all over the world in all WHO regions and it’s leading to the virus being exported through international travel,’ he said.
WHAT IS MEASLES, WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND HOW CAN YOU CATCH IT?
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from an infected person by coughing, sneezing or even just breathing.
Symptoms develop between six and 19 days after infection, and include a runny nose, cough, sore eyes, a fever and a rash.
The rash appears as red and blotchy marks on the hairline that travel down over several days, turning brown and eventually fading.
Some children complain of disliking bright lights or develop white spots with red backgrounds on their tongue.
In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.
Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society told MailOnline: ‘Measles can be very serious.
‘[It] can cause encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain.
‘Encephalitis can result in death or disability.’
Treatment focuses on staying hydrated, resting and taking painkillers, if necessary.
Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old.
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital