Primary School in Tonga. Photo/Lu'isa Tangitau (Facebook)

Primary schools in Tonga will be closed tomorrow November 14 until November 25 after a number of measles cases has climbed to 177.

“The closure date can be extended pending advice from the Ministry of Health,” a statement said.

The high schools will continue to operate as normal while a vaccination programme will be put into place as part of the battle to contain the measles outbreak.

The programme started with form 1 to form 4 and continuing to form 5 to 7 when their exams are completed by Monday 18.

The non government schools were consulted and have been informed of the government’s intent and they supported the measures recommended by Ministry of Health and will issue their own communication folio for their schools, the statement said.  

Parents are advised to keep their children at home during this temporally closure to limit their contact with other students who may be affected.

The students are asked not to return to the outer islands during the break as they may spread the disease.

Dr Reynold Ofanoa said contact tracing and history taking from measles patients revealed the virus was spread from New Zealand.

“Majority of the cases that we had initially were members of a national rugby team,” Dr Ofanoa told TVNZ.

“Players visited New Zealand from our schools to play some games during the month of September, and then the first case contracted the disease while in New Zealand.”

Since an outbreak was declared in New Zealand, it’s travelled to Fiji, Tonga and claimed at least four lives in Samoa. 

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