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Measles Emergency Declaration extended another 30-days — 11 confirmed cases, 1 more pending

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has extended for another 30-days, the Dec. 8th State of Emergency Declaration, due to the measles outbreak and includes the extension of the “short amnesty” program for overstayers to correct their immigration status.

The governor warned that undocumented immigrants will be subject to immigration efforts if they fail to register under the short-amnesty program.

In amending the declaration, dated Jan. 7th and released yesterday, the governor noted that the territory now has 11 laboratory confirmed cases of measles with one suspected case pending laboratory confirmation in Hawai’i.

Based on the clinical guidelines established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two incubation periods must pass from the last confirmed case of measles to declare an end to the outbreak, according to the governor.

He explained that two incubation periods for measles equals 48-days and the last confirmed case of measles began showing symptoms on Dec. 24, 2019.

(Samoa News notes that DoH officials provided similar explanations during the Jan. 5, 2020 cabinet briefing on measles. The Dec. 24th case is a 2-year-old, who has since been released from the hospital. Samoa News understands that the suspected case pending laboratory confirmation — an adult — was reported to the hospital Dec. 31, 2019 and the person was treated and released from LBJ and is being monitored by DoH.)

According to the governor, the conditions in neighboring Pacific countries, including Samoa — where 83 confirmed measles related deaths have occurred — “remain cause for heightened alert with regards to preventing the spread of measles.”

In extending the emergency declaration, the governor explained that the short-term amnesty will remain in effect for the duration of the extended emergency period. He emphasized that without an official status — overstayers — present in the territory on Dec. 8, 2019, “are to immediately register with the Immigration Office.”

He stressed that the amnesty program will close for registration on Feb. 6, 2020.

“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 warned.

Samoa News notes that one of the important requirements under the short-amnesty is for the immigrant to be vaccinated and present records to the Immigration Office. 

Under the emergency extension, the governor declares that:

•    restrictions on entry permits currently in place will continue until further notice;

•    daycare centers are to remain closed until Jan. 13th, subject to further update and advice of the Health Department.

•    all DoH health screening, examination and clearance policies for travelers currently in place remain until further notice; and

•    all other emergency policies currently in effect will remain so until further notice or expiration of this extended emergency declaration.