Samoa's state of emergency puts onus back on Ministry of Health
Apia, SAMOA — According to sources within the public health service, the death toll from the measles epidemic went from 14 to 16 as Samoa’s National Disaster Advisory Committee sessions were held Saturday (Samoa time).
Following the State of Emergency declaration Friday night, an order has been handed down for the entire population of Samoa to receive MMR vaccination injections immediately as a mandatory legal requirment.
Exactly how this would be implemented in the coming days remains unclear, as the second order handed down places the onus back on the Minsitry of Health to “publish its program and schedule for the new vaccination program by Monday 18th November”.
The National Disaster Advisory Committee requires the Health Ministry to ensure that their program sets out a vaccination schedule by location, consider transportation for public movement and “consider any other health precautions the public may require”.
An order has been handed down for the immediate closure of all schools and tertiary institutions, postponing all exams until further notice.
Children up to 17 years of age are banned from any public gatherings and children below 18 years of age are banned from hospitals unless they are seeking medical treatment.
To help contain the spread of the virus, only one family member is allowed to care for those hospitalised and police have been ordered to assist the National Hospitals with monitoring visitors. Police are also ordered to keep the peace and offer support to staff and family.
There was no mention of a mandatory shut down of business activities or offices to assist with the whole of population vaccination. Rather the public service are ordered “to attend to their jobs and responsibilities, until any further notice”.
It was unclear from the Orders handed down if support would be given to the Ministry of Health to address overcrowding at the TTM National Hospital paediatric ward where children from the same family are sharing beds.