Saturday, 23 November 2019

Thinking about Samoa for a vacation? Think again.


The normally idyllic Pacific Island nation of Samoa has been badly hit by a measles outbreak with a death toll in the 20s.

The Government has declared a state of emergency and closed schools as it tries to contain the outbreak.

The death toll includes 19 children under the age of four and an additional 11 children are critically ill in hospital.

A compulsory vaccination program has been ordered (rather too late) and schools have been closed and children banned from public gatherings.

Australia and New Zealand have sent medical specialists and supplies, while the United Nations children's agency UNICEF is distributing more than 110,000 doses of measles vaccine to Samoa's population of about 200,000.

Tonga and Fiji have also experienced outbreaks, although much less severe and without any deaths so far due to higher vaccination rates among the population.

Children are most vulnerable to measles, which typically causes a rash and fever but can also lead to blindness, brain damage and death.

Sadly, I could find no mention of the measles outbreak on the front page of the Samoan Tourism website - which seems neglectful. Hotels are apparently still open for business.

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