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29 Nov 2019

Samoa is enduring one of the worst measles outbreaks in the Pacific island nation’s history.

The Samoan Government has declared a State of Emergency and imposed restrictions on school attendances and other public movements and gatherings.

The number of people infected with the disease continues to grow, with at least 70 deaths confirmed and more than 4,600 cases recorded to date.

Most of the inflicted are babies and small children.

The Samoan Government has reached out to Australia for help.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that in response to a request from Samoa, Australia has provided support since November 4, which was 11 days before the State of Emergency was declared on November 15.

The Australian support includes a specialist team of doctors, nurses and public health experts, as well as urgently needed medical equipment and supplies.

“An Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) will work alongside Samoan health personnel to provide urgent care to critically ill patients, support vaccinations and develop public health messages,” Senator Payne said.

“The team has also established a portable eight-bed critical care unit to ensure the most vulnerable patients receive the care they need.

“AUSMAT is one of a few World Health Organisation (WHO) globally-verified Type-2 Emergency Medical Teams in the world, providing Australia with world-class capability to help our neighbours in times of need.”

Australia is working closely with the Government of Samoa, WHO, the Government of New Zealand and other regional partners to coordinate response efforts and prevent the further spread of measles which, if not contained, could pose a risk to the region.

Australians travelling to Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand are encouraged to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

Published: 29 Nov 2019