15 Papuan babies believed to have died of measles – 1 suspected Samoa case

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Measles and rubella vaccine . . . outbreak of cases in Central Papua
Measles and rubella vaccine . . . outbreak of cases in Central Papua. Image: RNZ Pacific/AFP

RNZ Pacific

As many as 15 children under the age of five in Central Papua have reportedly died of measles.

Parish Priest of Christ the Redeemer Church in Timeepa, Yeskiel Belau, told Jubi News he estimated the number to be higher because there were areas that had not been checked.

The data obtained by the church stated as many as 83 children in his ministry area alone had had measles, he said.

“In the parish centre, there are five kombas (base communities). The 15 children who died were only from the five commanders. Excluding the Toubai, Degadai, Megai Dua, Abaugi, and Dioudimi Stations.

“If the number is added, it will surely explode,” he said.

Timeepa Health Center head Yoki Butu said his party was conducting post-handover services for the measles and rubella (MR) vaccine by the Acting Dogiyai Regent, Petrus Agapa, to prevent measles in Dogiyai District.

His party immediately administered drugs to the targeted babies, he said.

“Our immunisation coverage has been carried out, in my service area there are only four villages and we have done that,” Yoki said.

Regarding the death of the 15 toddlers, Jubi News reported Yoki said the measles case was not only in the Dogiyai area but was currently the concern of all parties because it had become an “extraordinary event” in Central Papua Province.

“So let’s join hands to break the chain of transmission,” he said.

Measles is a serious viral infection, which can spread to others via coughing and sneezing.

Samoan baby admitted to hospital
In Samoa, an 11-month-old baby has been admitted to hospital suspected of measles.

Director-General of Health Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma told TV1 Samoa the infant was showing symptoms of measles and had been isolated to await results of blood samples sent to New Zealand.

He confirmed two other patients were tested recently and returned negative results.

The Ministry of Health were continuing the mumps measles and rubella (MMR) vaccination push around the country, according to Aiono.

“We’ve approved the payment of staff overtime to allow for them to work Saturday,” he said.

It had been three weeks since the MMR immunisation campaign started and they had reached 85 percent of babies with the first dosage, Aiono said.

The second dosage was only at 45 percent coverage, and Aiono urged parents to push for their children to be fully vaccinated with both doses.

“We hope to reach 80 percent coverage with the second dose by June,” he said.

Meanwhile, the latest test results are expected next week.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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