MY SAY : Bottom Line Is ‘Not To Congregate’

About the author:

Mataeliga Pio Sioa, Newsline Samoa newspaper editor. A veteran journalist in broadcast and print media.

  • Health security tight with the measles outbreak making people wear protective face masks
    Health security tight with the measles outbreak making people wear protective face masks

Key health advice for all of us as we try to dodge our measles epidemic is to avoid congregating in groups.  Those are the very words straight from our health experts.

The measles virus is highly contagious and will easily spread from one person to another.  Children in the 1-4 year old age group are the most vulnerable, especially the ones who are not immunized.

Even adults are prone too, if they have not received any vaccination injections as well.

Again those are words of caution from our watchful medical folks and they are deadly serious about it.

 The outbreak is going on to its fourth week and in our last updated report, it is highly possible, measles is responsible for the death of one adult and two children so far.

Schools are closed or closing as soon as the important end of year exams are done. 

This brings us right back to ‘avoid congregating’ in groups.

With the festive season coming up this is going to be quite a challenge or shaping up to be so. 

We all look forward to the celebration of Christmas and New Year.

This is a time when we are merry and joyful. Families, relatives and friends get together to celebrate.

People are drawn by long established tradition to bond in love and friendship. Kisses, hugs and long embraces are all wrapped up in the merry moment.

At first they congregate under family Christmas trees at home. 

Next the family is loaded up in vehicles for a joy ride to the beaches for the family picnic.

The fresh air outing is an occasion to meet and join with others in the same spirit of fun and laughter.  The more the merrier.

 Another heartwarming moment to look forward to with excited anticipation is meeting up with loved ones after a long absence.

Holiday flights bring them in by the hundreds from glamour cities like Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and beyond. 

Most arrive with round rosy red cheeks, pink feet, smoothly polished smiling faces and heavy spending wallets.

When all these heavyweight celebrations and more are added up as established tradition of the festive season, how will they stack up to the health call to ‘avoid congregating.’?

The best way to weigh everything up is to keep it simple. What is the bottom line?

Health care providers are responsible for human health not human rights. 

When they say ‘avoid congregating’ it does not mean they are going to walk into homes and take Christmas trees away as families sing ‘O Holy Night’.

Beaches will not be barricaded.  Faleolo International Airport will not open to international flight arrivals.

Human rights leaves it up to the person to decide.   Should they ‘avoid congregating’ or not! Personal choice.

What does it mean if you agree to ‘avoid congregating’? What if you decide to exercise your individual right to congregate?

Somewhere at the bottom of all that is the line we must chose to walk or in straight forward terms the bottom line.

 There are those of us assured of our health security after being properly vaccinated and they are the fortunate ones.

But not all of us are that lucky.   We are told that in Samoa our immunisation coverage is not good.

We have to be in the mid-90 percent of the total population vaccinated to be under what is called the ‘herd immunity’ protection.

It means the risks of catching measles are low for those not immunized.

Back to our bottom line.  The choice comes right down to how we react to the health safety call.

‘Avoid congregating’ in groups.  The choice is yours.

Tone it down or party it up?

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