Pacific gets tough on virus

SEVERAL Pacific countries have taken heavy-handed measures in an effort to stop a new and largely unknown coronavirus from taking hold in a region already strained by several severe epidemics.
Pacific gets tough on virus Pacific gets tough on virus Pacific gets tough on virus Pacific gets tough on virus Pacific gets tough on virus

Staff Reporter

Radio New Zealand International reports that while authorities and the World Health Organisation maintain the risk of an outbreak in the Pacific is low, little is being left to chance in countries that have battled some of the largest outbreaks of either measles, dengue fever, influenza or polio seen in generations.
 
That is especially the case in measles-plagued Samoa, where some of the strictest quarantine measures were imposed in the wake of an emergency Cabinet meeting last week.
 
Only a month after a measles epidemic claimed the lives of 83 people, mostly children, government officials said they didn't want to take the risk.
 
"Samoa has a history where it's been devastated by past pandemics, particularly in 1918 and obviously recently with measles," said Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at Otago University in Wellington.
 
"I can really understand Samoan health authorities taking a really cautious approach," Baker said.
 
In the emergency measures introduced on Friday, anyone travelling to Samoa - including from New Zealand - is required to undergo medical clearance at least three days before heading to the country.
 
It also imposed rules that compel anyone who has been in - or transited through - China to "self-quarantine" in a country free from the coronavirus for at least 14 days. The Faleolo Hospital, across the road from the main airport, had been set aside as a quarantine centre, with two Samoan sailors held in isolation there, although the government said they did not have the coronavirus, Radio New Zealand International reports.
 
Already, six Chinese nationals have been caught out by the new rules. Last Sunday night, they were returned to Nadi from Samoa aboard a Fiji Airways flight for not meeting the self-quarantine requirements.
 

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