APIA, 18 NOVEMBER 2019 (SAMOA OBSERVER) — The Samoan Government has issued the orders for the measles state of emergency declaration delivered by the Acting Prime Minister, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers-Ah Kau, on Friday night.
The orders include compulsory vaccinations, a crackdown on public gatherings and the involvement of the Police to keep the peace and provide support where needed. All schools, including universities, have been ordered closed with exams postponed.
The orders were given in a statement issued by the Government.
It followed an emergency committee meeting in the Cabinet Room attended by Cabinet Ministers and members of National Disaster Advisory Council to discuss the implications of the state of emergency declaration.
A vaccination programme will be published today, including where and when will be open for vaccination. There will be transport made available and certain age groups prioritised for vaccination.
The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is now a mandatory legal requirement, and children under 17 are not permitted to attend public gatherings.
All schools in Samoa are closed, including the University of Samoa. It brings forward the secondary school closure by a further two weeks, and all exams are also postponed until further notice.
At the country’s hospitals, the order states only one family member may care to their sick loved ones, and they must be over 18-years-old.
The Ministry of Police have been tasked to “keep the peace, support staff and families of the hospitals” and to help Hospitals monitor visitors.
Government staff are to continue working.
The Government have established a National Advisory Committee to deal with the crisis.
“The Orders of State of Emergency are in effect immediately as of today (Friday) following the endorsement by the Member of the Council of Deputies Afioga Le Mamea Lemalu Su’a Tuiletufuga Leatuavao Ropati Mualia, acting in the absence of the Head of State and after consultation with Cabinet.”
The State of Emergency allowed government to act with fewer constraints and checks than normal, enabling the institution of the mandatory order to vaccinate, for example.
There are more than 716 suspected cases of measles, and 40 per cent of them have needed hospital treatment.
At least six people have died, most likely as a result of the disease. Five of them are under two-years-old and one was a 37-year-old.
Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital’s intensive care unit is at capacity, with patients being moved to a new intensive care facility built by the Australian Medical Assistance Team and opened on Saturday.
A further new isolation ward has been constructed within the old hospital’s wards to keep sick patients away from other people.
Measles is a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease that the World Health Organisation was trying to eradicate by next year.
Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes and eye sensitivity to light.
After three to five days a raised red rash will start to appear on the head, face and body. Not all symptoms may be present but people should seek treatment at their nearest hospital urgently.
Alternative treatment, while tempting, should not be sought in the case of measles, as its effect on the body means complications can develop worsen rapidly and may quickly be fatal.
Emergency departments are being used for vaccination clinics currently.
In view of Samoa being in a State of Emergency, the following orders, are in effect immediately pursuant to Article 106 of the Constitution:
(a)that MMR vaccinations for members of the public who have not yet received a vaccination injection, is now a mandatory legal requirement for all of Samoa.
(b)that the Ministry of Health (through the resolution of the Disaster Advisory and National Advisory Committee) is to publish its programme and schedule for the new vaccination programme by Monday 18th November. This must include the confirmation of:
b.Dates for vaccinations for each Location;
- Modes of Transport (where available);
d.Age brackets that will be prioritised;
e.Any other health precautions required for the members of the public.
(c)that all schools in Samoa including the National University of Samoa (NUS) are closed forthwith, until further notice; and all Government administered examinations that were pending are hereby postponed until further notice.
d)that all public gatherings cannot henceforth include the presence of children up to the age of 17.
(e that at all National Hospitals, only one (1) family member caregiver can attend to the care of any person who is hospitalised anywhere in Samoa.
(f)that unless they are requiring medical attention, no child under the age of 18 can attend to any medical facility.
(g)That the Ministry of Police are ordered to keep the peace, support staff and families of the hospitals, and attend to assisting the National Hospitals to assist with monitoring the visitors.
(h) All public servants are to attend to their jobs and responsibilities, until any further notice.
If you or your child show any symptoms of the disease, call 66506 or 66507 or go to your nearest hospital. (PACNEWS)