Samoa measles death toll tops 50

  • Samoa measles death toll tops 50

Samoa measles death toll tops 50

A fishing boat is seen in the early morning near Taumeasina Island Resort in Apia, Samoa on September 8, 2017. The small Pacific Island nation has closed schools and is restricting travel ahead of the Christmas holiday season as the death toll from a measles outbreak tops 50.

Meanwhile, there have been another five deaths in Samoa's measles epidemic, bringing the toll to 53.

Samoa's vulnerability has risen as the number of people becoming immunized declines, with the World Health Organization saying vaccine coverage is only about 31%.

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

"We are still having church services but if it gets worse we will have to stop church altogether - and it's nearly Christmas".

According to a government statement on Sunday, of the 48 deaths, most are children under the age of four with four fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed 3,728 measles cases since the outbreak started.

In the island nation of Samoa in Polynesia due to a measles outbreak has killed 48 people since mid-October.

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccinologist at the University of Auckland, said there were pockets of the community where immunisation rates had slipped, allowing the disease to take hold.

The country's immunisation programme was also temporarily suspended.

He says about 33,000 people were vaccinated before last month and 58,000 more have been vaccinated since then.

As Samoa's measles epidemic worsens, the Samoan Government has been working with telecommunication companies in the country to this morning send out a mass vaccination alert to cellphones.

The UN children's agency Unicef has given than 110,000 doses of measles vaccine and medical teams of Australia and New Zealand are supporting administer them.

Measles, a highly contagious virus that spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, has been reported in other Pacific nations, including Tonga and Fiji, but there have been no reports of deaths in those countries, which have greater vaccination coverage.