Saturday, 07 December, 2019


Samoa measles: Five more deaths over night brings tally to 53

Samoa is rolling out a mass vaccination program in a bid to limit the spread of a deadly measles outbreak READ MOREAn Aussie doctor in Samoa has labelled the measles outbreak an'extraordinary crisis
Patty Aguilar | 02 December, 2019, 10:22

The death toll from a measles outbreak in Samoa has increased to 53, after five children died from the infection the day before, while authorities step up efforts to vaccinate the entire population against the deadly disease.

The highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where vaccine coverage was only about 31% when measles took hold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The government said more than 1,100 people had been admitted to hospital since the outbreak began.

Red Cross New Zealand's Karen Page told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning from Samoa that everyone with a cellphone in the Pacific island nation received the alert between 7 and 7:30am this morning to say that teams are now vaccinating everybody up to the age of 60 - something they hadn't been doing until now. The Samoan government issued an update on Wednesday that verified the death toll had risen to 39, with 35 of those deaths minors under the age of four.

Samoa's Prime Minister has announced a government shutdown in response to the measles epidemic that has claimed the lives of 53 people in the Pacific island nation.

There are now 183 measles cases who are in-patients at all health facilities. "Because first of all we were aware of the possibility or the potential for this and that's been the case for a long time".

The country's immunisation programme was also temporarily suspended.

Schools and universities have been closed and most public meetings prohibited.

Neighboring New Zealand and a number of other countries and organizations, including the U.S. agency UNICEF, have provided thousands of vaccines and medical supplies and dispatched medical personnel to help with the outbreak.

The country, with support from worldwide donors including New Zealand and Australia, has been racing to administer vaccines to children since declaring a state of emergency on November 20 and has vaccinated 58,150 people so far.

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