The New Zealand Ministry of Health warned that anybody travelling to the Pacific should be immunised against measles a week before it was revealed that a passenger with measles had flown from Auckland to Nuku’alofa and back.
“It is recommended that all travellers to the Pacific are vaccinated against measles or have immunity to measles before they go,” the Ministry said in a statement on its web page dated January 15.
“People need to be vaccinated at least two weeks before they travel.”
The Ministry warned that some Pacific Island countries now required travellers to show evidence of a measles vaccination.
American Samoa, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Tokelau and the Solomon Islands asked travellers to show evidence that they had been vaccinated against measles at least two weeks before arrival.
It is understood a passenger with measles travelled on two Air New Zealand flights between Tonga and Auckland this week.
It is understood the passenger flew to Nuku’alofa on Monday morning and returned on Wednesday afternoon.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said passengers should keep an eye out for symptoms of the highly-infectious disease.
These included a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.
Passengers who were not immunised, pregnant, living with a weakened immune system or under 12 months old should see their doctor urgently.
It could take one to two weeks to start experiencing symptoms. People were most at risk if they were not immune to measles, either because they had not been vaccinated or had not had the disease before.
Anybody who was on either of the Air New Zealand flights and was unsure about their immunisation status could contact Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.
UN confirms cases
According to a United Nations report there were 647 confirmed or suspected cases of measles in Tonga by the middle of last week.
A total of 71 of these cases had been confirmed by laboratory tests.
Of the cases, 569, or 87.9%, occurred on Tongatapu and 66 (10.2 %) occurred on Vava’u Island. Cases have mostly presented with mild symptoms. So far 20 people have been hospitalized, with no new intake since Christmas Day. All cases have been discharged.
Most cases are being treated by keeping the patient isolated at home.
A total of eight new cases were reported in Tongatapu between January 16-22. The age of infected patients ranged from seven months to 30 years.
The last reported case in Vava’u was January 8.
The main points
- The New Zealand Ministry of Health warned that anybody travelling to the Pacific should be immunised against measles a week before it was revealed that a passenger with measles had flown from Auckland to Nuku’alofa and back.
- It is understood a passenger with measles travelled on two Air New Zealand flights between Tonga and Auckland this week.
For more information
Passenger with measles travelled between Auckland and Tonga – officials
Tonga Measles Outbreak 2019-20 – Situation Report #15
2019/20 measles outbreak information