No reprieve as Samoa measles death toll hits 70

Henrietta Strickland
December 10, 2019

APIA: A devastating measles outbreak has continued to spread in Samoa, with the death toll reaching 70, as the United Nations on Monday released $2.6 million in emergency aid to combat the epidemic.

Samoa is in a state of emergency, with all schools closed, a mass vaccination campaign underway and public gatherings in the nation restricted.

The Department of Health in American Samoa has now declared a measles outbreak after confirmation of nine samples sent to Hawaii for testing.

Tufa said in a television broadcast that samples from those infected were sent to Hawaii for testing and the results came back Thursday, resulting in the move to let the public know that "we are now in the state of emergency" and a "measles outbreak".

But Dr Tufa said more needed to be done for children aged one to five, for whom the immunisation rate stood at 84.7 per cent.

As of December 8, about 90 percent of all eligible people in Samoa have been vaccinated against measles.

Outbreaks elsewhere in the Pacific, including Tonga, Fiji and American Samoa, have been easier to contain because of higher immunisation rates, with no deaths reported.

"You have scores of people dying, and the society is paralyzed", said Honolulu surgeon Paulus Tsai.

About 34,000 people were immunized over two days, officials said.

"The people of Samoa will not fight this outbreak alone", Lowcock said in a statement.

The mission was coordinated by medical doctor and Lieutenant Governor Josh Green who worked with Samoan leaders, the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said.

The outbreak began in Samoa two months ago and, as of today, 68 people have died, and more than 4,600 people have been infected.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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