Measles: Samoan PM announces govt shut down

By Bronson Perich

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has announced that the Samoan government will close for two days this week to assist in efforts to stem the country's measles epidemic, suspending all but two government operations.

This Thursday and Friday, government personnel will assist with the country's mass vaccination programme, which has immunised over 58,000 Samoans since November 20.

The only exceptions are staff from the Samoa Water Authority and the Electric Power Corporation which will operate as normal.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa called on his country to assist the government in combating measles.

"The government needs the support of all the village councils, faith-based organisations, the church leaders, village mayors, government women representatives that have engaged in outreach," he said.

The prime minister also thanked the international community, NGOs and churches for their support.

"We have received medical teams from Australia, New Zealand and the New Zealand Red Cross, France, the Pacific Medical Association, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, China, Norway, Japan and the UK and USA, and more are on their way.”

The prime minister says the mass vaccination campaign will be extended to all Samoans under 60 years of age.

"Let us not be distracted by the alternative cures. Measles is not new to Samoa and rarely claimed lives. We need to understand the following issues.

"First vaccinations is the only cure; second, if affected cases are presented early for treatment full recovery should be expected, and thirdly no traditional healers and Kangen water preparations can cure measles," he said.

Kangen water became the centre of controversy last week when a local man was alleged to be using the water to treat people with measles.

Schools, tertiary institutions and churches remain closed in Samoa and restrictions on gatherings of children are still in force.

The measles epidemic has claimed 55 lives in Samoa.