Statement on Samoa measles outbreak

  • Joint Statement
  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women
  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet
21 November 2019

Australia is supporting Samoa’s response to one of the worst measles outbreaks in the country’s history.

On 15 November, the Government of Samoa declared a State of Emergency in response to the growing number of people infected with measles. At least 16 deaths have been confirmed and 1,174 cases have been recorded to date, with the majority affecting babies and small children.

In response to a request from Samoa, Australia has provided support since 4 November, including a specialist team of nurses, doctors and public health experts, as well as urgently needed medical equipment and supplies.

An Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) will work alongside Samoan health personnel to provide urgent care to critically ill patients, support vaccinations and develop public health messages. The team has also established a portable eight-bed critical care unit to ensure the most vulnerable patients receive the care they need.

AUSMAT is one of a few World Health Organization (WHO) globally-verified Type-2 Emergency Medical Teams in the world, providing Australia with world-class capability to help our neighbours in times of need.

Australia is working closely with the Government of Samoa, the World Health Organisation, the Government of New Zealand and other regional partners to coordinate our response efforts and prevent the further spread of measles which, if not contained, could pose a risk to the region.

Australians travelling to Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand are encouraged to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555