NEWS

Measles Ground Zero: 5 Households Under Quarantine

Children and families now under quarantine; Parents unable to go to work, get paid and buy food
22 Nov 2019 12:03
Measles Ground Zero: 5 Households Under Quarantine
Children have not been to school and some have not re-enrolled or looked for a secondary school. Photo: Shalveen Chand

Five households in Wailali Settlement in Wainadoi, Namosi have been put under quarantine as the Ministry of Health tries to control the spread of measles.

Five of the nine confirmed cases of measles are from the households.

They are four-month-old Ioane Ravuama, Asilika Vate, 22, Angelo Morris, 6, Susan Morris 25 and Nancy Patricia, 22.

All family members living with the five households are under strict orders not to leave the compound, and their movement is being monitored by the Fiji Police Force. The Police make random patrols in the day to see if the orders given by the Ministry of Health are being adhered to.

All those living there and nearby have been vaccinated.

But all is not well for the five households. There are 16 children below the age of 16 years staying in the five houses, and only two of them have measles.

Baby Ioane Ravuama was one of the first cases of measles to be confirmed by the Ministry of Health. Photo: Shalveen Chand

Baby Ioane Ravuama was one of the first cases of measles to be confirmed by the Ministry of Health. Photo: Shalveen Chand

Fiji Employers Federation

Fiji Employers Federation outgoing chief executive officer Nesbitt Hazelman urged all employers to be sympathetic towards all those quarantined and diagnosed with measles.

He said employers must assist the Government in controlling the spread of the disease, but at the same time ensure the welfare of their staff members and families.

Food and work movement

With restriction, children have not been to school and the breadwinners have not been to work since Monday.

Simione Matorino, 26, baby Ioane’s father, has not been paid for work this week. Neither has Ioane’s grandfather, Misaele Vorete.

The situation is the same for a neighbour, Baravi Vidole.

“We are not able to buy food. That is our biggest worry,” Mr Matarino said.

“It is about getting paid. We have been told not to return to work until we receive our blood test results. We were not given any sick sheets.

“The visiting health team took blood samples and told us not to go to work and school. They took the numbers of our employers.”

Mr Vorete said they had not received a full weeks pay and things have been hard for them.

“We are already poor and on top of that our pay is being docked. What do we eat? For the last three days we have just been eating tea and rice,” he said.

Neighbour Susan Morris said that food was not the only concern. She said there were many children as well.

“We don’t mind being quarantined, but if you are going to do that please ensure we have all rations so that we do not die of hunger,” she said.”

Aselika Vate, who was diagnosed with measles too, has not been to work as well.

According to a staff member of Formscaff, who employs Mr Matarino, the management was looking into the issue and was aware that he was under quarantine. The Ministry of Health has urged employers not to penalise workers who are under quarantine as a result of the outbreak.

School

Young Ioane and Angelo were put under isolation on November 7.

When the two other cases became known, movement from the five households was restricted.

As of last week, the children have not been to school.

Makereta Liku said the children were unable to attend the school prizegiving. She said a child from the so-called quarantine zone attended Marist Convent Primary School in Lami.

“We have two children who are in Year Eight and we have not been able to look for a secondary school for them because of the situation we are in,” she said.

“What will happen when school starts next year? I am sure plenty schools will say there is no space.

“It is also hurtful that we have not been able to attend the prizegiving of our children.”

Ms Liku said a hospital from New Zealand called them to find out about their situation and what they were doing under quarantine.

Fiji Society for the Blind – Vatuwaqa

It seems measles is spreading. As of yesterday, the Fiji Society for the Blind School was placed under quarantine after a suspected case of measles was identified.

A 10-year-old child is suspected of having the disease, however, the Ministry of Health has yet to confirm it, with all precautions being taken.

According to the school, the child was taken to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva and the directive to quarantine the school was implemented.

As of yesterday, it is not clear if teachers and students are confined to the school or allowed to move freely without any restrictions.

The school also has a hostel, which caters for students.

The main gate at the Fiji School for the Blind in Vatuwaqa, Suva, on November 21. 2019 with the quarantine notice pasted on it. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

The main gate at the Fiji School for the Blind in Vatuwaqa, Suva, on November 21. 2019 with the quarantine notice pasted on it. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Dr Waqainabete’s comments

After the recent cases, which were discovered in Suva, Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi  Waqainabete said the public should refrain from mass gatherings not only in the Serua and Namosi provinces but also in the Suva-Nausori corridor.

He is calling on the public not to take the measles issue lightly.

“The disease kills children. We have to see what’s happening around the world and around the region to see how serious it is,” he said.

Dr Waqainabete said under the Public Health Act, they had the power to quarantine anyone in the case of infectious diseases.

Vaccines

There are now many people wanting to get vaccinated.

This has led to large crowds turning up at health centres around the country. Now there are no more vaccines at some health centres, even at Navua Hospital. Word from Navua Hospital is that they would receive the new stock next week.

Current stocks are being reserved for the following high-risk target groups:

1. The residents of Serua/Namosi;

2. Children from the ages of six months to three years; and

3. People travelling overseas, however proof of travel must be shown i.e. ticket/travel itinerary, not just a passport.

The routine immunisation of children at 12 and 18 months of age will continue as per the national immunisation schedule.

Dr Waqainabete said there were 200,000 batches of vaccine coming into the country by next week.

“I was briefly told that we have gone through 90,000 vaccines. That’s before the 35,000 that came and we have gone through another 20,000 of that, so really we have gone through 110,000 vaccinations,” he said.

“And that does not even include the normal vaccinations we have to do for children who are 12 months and 18 months – that carry out as normal.”

Fiji’s history with measles

In 1875, when measles first came to Fiji via trade ships, a quarter of Fiji’s population, which was estimated as about 40,000 people died. In some places in Fiji, there are mass graves of those who had died from the disease.

A grave reminder not to take any infectious disease as a light matter, even in this day and age.

Precautions taken

The Fiji Sun news team was vaccinated on November 12, 10 days prior to visiting the infected zone.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedbackshalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj

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