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Pacific: Measles Outbreak - Oct 2019

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The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is declaring an outbreak of measles for the Serua/Namosi Subdivision. There have been two confirmed cases and two suspected cases reported from Wailali Settlement in Wainadoi. Three of the cases have recovered or are recovering at home, and one is currently admitted in hospital. (Gov't of Fiji, 07 Nov 2019)

As of 11 November, one of the suspected cases from the 7th November update was subsequently confirmed to have measles after lab testing. There are three confirmed cases and one suspected case reported from Wailali Settlement in Wainadoi. The three confirmed cases are a four-month-old baby and two adults between the ages of twenty and twenty-five. (Gov't of Fiji, 11 Nov 2019)

Seven cases of measles have been confirmed by 19 November. The latest confirmed cases are a 7 month old from Wainadoi, a 3 month old from Wainadoi, and a 19 year old from Navunikabi in Namosi. There are 2 more suspected cases in Navunikabi Namosi. The 7 month old and 3 month old babies are currently admitted under isolation at Navua hospital. (Govt. of Fiji, 19 Nov 2019)


The Ministry of Health held a news conference in Apia on 9 October to announce a suspected measles case that may be transmitted from the Auckland outbreak. The MoH further reported if lab results sent to Australia were positive, an outbreak would be declared. The Government of Samoa plans to set up isolation facilities for patients with measles, creating space in Apia for a children's pop-up vaccination clinic to speed up herd immunity, and extra airport passenger surveillance. World Health Organisation warns against unnecessary air travel to Samoa. (ECHO, 11 Oct 2019)

A measles epidemic was confirmed by the Government of Samoa on 16 October. There were seven confirmed cases of measles; two adults and five children. All were treated and discharged with no complications. However, there has also been one confirmed death, a one-year-old child. (Govt. of Samoa, 16 Oct 2019)

As of 20 October, there have been 169 suspected measles cases. 53 percent are children under the age of four, and 20 percent are 20-30 year olds. 91 percent of suspected cases reside in Upolu, while the remaining 9 percent are in Savaii. (Govt. of Samoa, 21 Oct 2019)

As of 27 October, there have been 314 suspected measles cases, with 15 confirmed cases. Over 55 percent of the suspected cases have been found in children under the age of four. Almost 80 percent of suspected cases reside in Upolu, while almost 20 percent are in Savaii. (Govt. of Samoa, 30 Oct 2019)

The Samoan government will close all schools in the country due to the current measles epidemic. The Cabinet has approved for all primary schools to be closed from 15 November and all high schools as of 29 November. More than 300 people, mostly young children, were suspected to have the viral illness. 3 people have died from suspected measles cases since the declaration of the epidemic last month. (ECHO, 04 Nov 2019)

As of 4 November 2019 there have been 513 suspected measles cases with 48 laboratory confirmed cases. To date, there has been three measles-related mortality; a 14-month old an 8-month old; and a 37-year old, all highly suspected measles and all awaiting laboratory confirmation. Of the 513 suspected cases, 62% are children less than 5 years of age; 10% age 5-14 years; 15% age 15-24 years; 7% age 25-35 years; 6% age 35 and above and 1% age not recorded. 83% (370) of suspected cases reside in Upolu and 15% (73) in Savaii. (Gov't of Samoa)

In Samoa, the situation is deteriorating. There are at least 628 suspected measles cases recorded with 48 confirmed so far. A vaccinologist from Auckland University said the disease was at the stage where it was now difficult to stop. The necessary measure is to provide vaccinations. Samoa had a very low uptake of measles vaccines for years and the country had some of the lowest vaccine coverages in the world. (ECHO, 13 Nov 2019)

On 18 November, UNICEF announced that it is supporting the Government of Samoa to respond to a measles outbreak in the country. The Government of Samoa officially declared a state of emergency on 15 November 2019, four weeks into the continuing measles outbreak with more than 1,000 suspected cases so far. All schools have been temporarily closed in order to prevent the disease from spreading. The epidemic has claimed the lives of 14 children under-five years old and one adult. (UN Children's Fund, 18 Nov 2019)


The Tonga Ministry of Health advises that cases of measles have been identified in a high school rugby group, who were playing rugby in New Zealand in September. The team returned to Tonga on 1 October. The Ministry has taken rapid steps to prevent further spread of the virus, including isolating the current cases at home, vaccinating contacts of the cases and quarantining the remaining squad members, staff and other contacts. (Govt. of Tonga, 18 Oct 2019)

As of 28 October, 107 cases of confirmed, or suspected, measles cases had been identified in Tonga. Authorities reported that the cases are typically experiencing a mild illness. Approximately 65 percent of these cases were discovered in 15-19 year olds. (Govt. of Tonga, 28 Oct 2019)

As of 5 November, 177 cases of confirmed or suspected measles have been identified in Tonga. Clinicians have reported that most cases are experiencing a mild illness. (Gov't of Tonga, 6 Nov 2019)

The Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Health of Tonga announced the closure of all government primary schools from 14-25 November 2019 to further contain the outbreak of measles. The Ministry of Health advised people in Tonga to take precautionary measures to minimize the spread of measles, especially among students. (ECHO, 13 Nov 2019)