Date Published: 30 March 2009
New Zealand assisting with managing Tokelau influenza outbreak
New Zealand health authorities are working closely with their counterparts in Tokelau to help manage an influenza outbreak affecting more than one in every ten people on the three remote atolls of Tokelau.
The New Zealand territory with only slightly more than 1500 residents spread over three atolls more than 500 km north of Apia has around 150 people reported ill with influenza.
Health services on each atoll have acted swiftly to limit the spread of the disease. The school on Atafu, the northern-most atoll, has been closed, public gatherings halted, sick people advised to stay home and hand washing messages reinforced.
Wellington public health services and Capital and Coast Health have been working with the NZ Ministry of Health and WHO providing advice and additional health supplies such as vaccines, which along with antiviral supplies will be shipped to Tokelau on the overnight boat trip from Samoa. The Wellington-based Office of the Administrator of Tokelau is also actively involved with coordination and support.
Nursing support from Wellington has been offered to Tokelau and if required they would need to fly to Apia in time to catch the fortnightly boat from Apia to Tokelau as the atolls have no air service.
Ministry of Health officials are closely monitoring the situation and working with the Minister of and Director for Health for Tokelau – both of whom are based in Samoa.