Samoa in Christmas lockdown as measles deaths top 50

02 Décembre, 2019, 10:26 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
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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 health system is under serious strain with growing numbers of people, many of whom are very young, needing complex care as a result of the measles outbreak", Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement Friday.

The number of suspected cases of measles on the Pacific island of Samoa has more than doubled.

"All our schools are closed, national exams have been postponed", Reverend Vavatau Taufao, general secretary of the Congregation Christian Church in Samoa, told Reuters.

The vast majority of deaths were of children, with 48 out of the 53 aged four or under dying from the disease, according to a government update.

Measles cases are on the rise globally, even in rich countries like Germany and the U.S., because parents avoid vaccination for philosophical or religious reasons, or doctors have revealed fears that such vaccines could trigger autism.

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

"It's about being a good global citizen really, in that we all have to do our bit", said Petousis-Harris.

It resulted in the temporary suspension of the country's immunisation programme and dented parents' trust in the vaccine, even though it later turned out the deaths were caused when other medicines were incorrectly administered.

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.

UNICEF said Thursday it had delivered 300,000 vaccines as well as medical supplies to Samoa, Fiji and Tonga to respond to the outbreaks.

It says about 33,000 people were vaccinated before last month and a further 58,000 people have been vaccinated since.

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