9 Jan 2020

American Samoa extends public health emergency

3:48 pm on 9 January 2020

A public health emergency in American Samoa has been extended until 6 February as the territory continues to deal with a measles outbreak.

American Samoa is bracing itself for the possibility of a measles outbreak.

Photo: RNZ Pacific / Monica Miller

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga said the territory now had 11 confirmed cases of the disease.

The public health emergency was already extended on 8 December and saw a mass vaccination campaign and border controls introduced.

The initial emergency declaration was issued in mid-November and was valid for 30 days.

Lolo said vulnerable people who needed vaccinations remained, and daycare centres would remain closed until at least next week.

He also urged overstayers in the territory to correct their immigration status under the current "short amnesty" or face consequences - including deportation.

Lolo emphasised overstayers should immediately register with the Immigration Office, and stressed the amnesty programme would also close on 6 February.

"At the close of registration, there will be increased immigration enforcement efforts and all those who have not registered for the amnesty program will be subject to all applicable penalties including fines and deportation," he said.

The governor's executive assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, said getting all undocumented immigrants vaccinated so the territory could control the spread of measles was a priority.

Officials estimate there are about 3000 overstayers in the territory.

As of 27 December, only 341 applicants had registered.

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