Published: Mon, December 02, 2019
Medical | By

Measle Cases Double in Samoa

Measle Cases Double in Samoa

A view of the capital Apia in Samoa.

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 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.

There have been 48 measles-related deaths in Samoa since the outbreak was declared by the Ministry of Health on October 16.

More than 3,700 cases of measles have been recorded in the islands' population of around 200,000, with 198 new cases between Sunday and Monday.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates Samoa's vaccination rate is between 28-40 percent.

The government started a mandatory vaccination program November 20 after declaring a state of emergency because of the outbreak.

The New Zealand government on Friday announced it had sent a third rotation of emergency medical staff, as well as nurse vaccinators, intensive cares specialists and Samoan-speaking medical professionals.

Kate O'Brien, director of the WHO's immunization department, said in Geneva that "very cheap coverage of measles vaccine" was to blame for the rapid expanse of the highly contagious in the nation.

Nearly two per cent of the population - 3728 people - has caught the disease in the outbreak, which had origins in New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pre-empted a growing death toll, listing a 54-strong Kiwi medical contingent on the ground on top of funding and medical supplies her country had delivered.

Norton said Britain was also planning to send a support medical team, computing that World Health Organization has sent out a request to other countries in the region to give medical teams. It is most often spread through coughing or sneezing, and can be prevented by vaccination.

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