WHO warns measles resurgent as Samoa deaths rise

Henrietta Strickland
December 5, 2019

It's the seventh day the death toll has risen, with children making up nearly all of the dead.

According to a government statement on Tuesday, of the 55 deaths, most are children under four years old, with two fatalities reported in the last 24 hours.

The government said nearly 200 new measles cases had been recorded since Sunday, with the rate of infection showing no sign of slowing despite a compulsory mass vaccination programme.

A total of 174 people are hospitalized with measles.

The festering anti-vaccination movement in the United States is giving doctors and health officials a headache, but things are even worse on the island nation of Samoa.

Samoa's prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, announced that all public and government services, except the water and electrical power authorities, will close on Thursday and Friday. Officials have already begun a mass vaccination campaign aimed at young children and women of childbearing years, inoculating 58,150 people as of Sunday.

He discouraged people from turning to traditional healers for remedies, adding, vaccinations are "the only cure".

On Monday, Samoa expanded the mandatory vaccination program to those eligible for measles vaccinations, which have been made mandatory under local law.

Authorities said two men were questioned after members of the public filed complaints that they were promoting alternative treatments through social media.

Mr Tamasese opposes the use of paracetamol and antibiotics for measles patients, and instead claims to be dispensing vitamins to measles victims.

The death toll is expected to rise according to projections by Samoa's Ministry of Health along New Zealand health experts.

Emergency measures including compulsory mass immunizations and school closures have so far done little to stop the virus spreading in a country that was particularly vulnerable to measles due to low vaccination rates of about 31 percent.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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