RAROTONGA, 01 NOVEMBER 2019 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) — Cook Islands Ministry of Health is on high alert as Tonga and Samoa report a spread of potentially fatal measles.

More than 100 cases of suspected measles have been identified in Tonga, while Samoa waits for test results to confirm at least three diagnoses.

This comes after the measles outbreak in New Zealand with more than 1000 measles cases confirmed to date and travelers are still being warned to get vaccinated against the disease.

The Ministry of Health has been highlighting the importance of immunization, particularly for children and the elderly.

It has warned Cook Islands parents to keep their babies out of contact with anyone who has been exposed to measles or traveled from New Zealand.

However, there have been no measles cases identified in the Cook Islands.

Health Secretary Josephine Aumea Herman said the Ministry of Health was monitoring the measles cases overseas.

“We are closely monitoring the situation especially after measles were reported in Tonga and Samoa.”

Herman said she was hoping the outbreak did not reach the Cook Islands and that they had done enough to keep Cook Islanders safe.

“We have been very fortunate but the key is immunization,” said Herman.

Besides immunizations, she said Cook Islanders’ acquired natural immunity to measles – those adults who caught and survived measles when they were younger – could explain why the highly infectious virus had not spread in this country.

A majority of Cook Islanders would have had measles when they were young and now have an immunity to the disease, she said. (PACNEWS)