Samoa is in the grip of a serious measles outbreak right now. Over the past six weeks, the outbreak has infected nearly 4,000 people out of a population of 200,000, killing 60, mostly children under four. A nationwide state of emergency has been declared, and this week will see a two-day shutdown of businesses and roads across the island.
Medical teams from around the world are now working with UNICEF to bring in vaccines to support the Samoan government’s vaccination programme.
Tonga and Fiji have also reported cases of measles, although the situation seems to be more under control here – largely due to the higher rates of vaccination amongst its populations. In Samoa, the World Health Organisation estimates that only around 30% of the population had been vaccinated prior to the recent outbreak.
The Samoan government has announced that no road travel will be allowed between 0700-1700 local time on Dec 5 and Dec 6, as they will be carrying out a door-to-door mass vaccination campaign across the country during this period. People are being told to stay in their home and tie a red flag outside their door if they are still waiting to be vaccinated. Inter-island travel between Upolu and Savaii will also be prohibited during these times.
Samoa Airways has said that all its flights on these days will be operating as usual, and no restrictions have been announced at the country’s international airport, NSFA/Faleolo.
Hotels are exempt from the curfew, but expect most local businesses across Samoa to be closed during this period.
Neighbouring American Samoa has reported two cases of measles in the past few weeks. Concerned about the spread of the virus, authorities at NSTU/Pago Pago airport on American Samoa have been denying landing to anyone flying in from Samoa (i.e. NSFA/Faleolo) or Tonga (i.e. NFTF/Fuaʻamotu) if they don’t have a measles vaccination certificate. We’ve had reports in AiportSpy that the same has been happening at PLCH/Christmas Island as well.
For operations to all airports in the region, ensure your vaccinations are all up to date, and that you carry certificates on board with you to present to the local authorities.