The death toll in Samoa's measles outbreak has risen to 73, most them children, the Pacific island government says.
The death toll in Samoa's measles outbreak has risen to 73, most them children, the Pacific island government says.

Samoa measles death toll rises to 73

At least 73 people, mostly children, have died in Samoa due to a measles outbreak since last month, the Pacific island government says.

According to the latest update on Monday morning from the Samoan ministry of health, 5267 measles cases had been reported since the outbreak of the infectious disease.

As of December 15, 93 per cent of the population has been vaccinated, according to the health ministry.

Earlier this month, Samoa conducted a door-to-door vaccination campaign in response to a measles outbreak, with a two-day shutdown of public services, commerce and road networks.

Officials had asked unvaccinated residents to hang red flags outside their homes to help the campaign.

Since mid-November, the government has declared a state of emergency and closed schools and a university. Anyone aged under 19 is barred from public gatherings.

According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), the measles outbreak in the Pacific is believed to have originated in New Zealand, but has now affected other countries, including in Fiji and Tonga.

Samoa has been hit the hardest due to low vaccination rates, with the vaccination rate at 28 to 40 per cent, according to UNICEF.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there were measles outbreaks in all regions of the world, with the number of cases reported to the WHO above 413,000 by early November, compared to 353,000 for all of last year.

It faulted "insufficient immunisation" in some of the world's poorest countries for the rise.


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