50 children killed by measles in Samoa as outbreak worsens
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Samoa’s government said Monday that another five children had died within the past day from a measles outbreak, bringing the death toll from the epidemic to more than 50 as authorities race to vaccinate the entire population.
Samoa declared a national emergency last month and mandated that all 200,000 people living on the South Pacific island nation get vaccinated.
The government has closed all schools and banned children from public gatherings.
In all, 53 people have died in the outbreak since late October, including one adult and two older teenagers.
Most of those who have died have been babies and young infants, including 23 children aged less than 1 and 25 children aged between 1 and 4.
The government said more than 1,100 people have been admitted to hospitals since the outbreak began and about 180 people remain hospitalised.
Among those hospitalised are 19 children who are in critical condition.
Samoan authorities believe the virus was first spread by a traveller from New Zealand.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that her country was doing everything it could to help curb the epidemic, including sending more than 50 medical professionals and thousands of vaccines to Samoa.
Other countries including Britain have also sent teams and supplies.