Published: Tue, December 03, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Samoa's measles death toll rises to 55

Samoa's measles death toll rises to 55

To achieve the goal, he said government services and departments would close on Thursday and Friday this week in order to allow all public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the country.

The Samoan Ministry of Health said that a total of 3,881 measles cases have been recorded to the Disease Surveillance Team so far, with 153 cases reported in the last 24 hours. There have been nearly 4,000 confirmed cases in a country of just 200,000 people and 55 people have died, 50 of them children under four.

"Let us work together to encourage and convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic", he said. "Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures", Tuilaepa said.

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

And 174 people remain in hospital, including 18 critically ill children.

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World Health Organization (WHO) medical officer for the western Pacific, Jose Hagan, said it was a grim reminder of the danger posed by "probably the most infectious disease that we know of".

Immunizations in Samoa plummeted past year after a high-profile scandal in which improperly prepared vaccine caused the deaths of two infants. "They really found a gap there to really hammer home their message".

The shutdown is Samoa's most recent attempt to fight an outbreak that the government declared on November 15 to be a national emergency. Officials have already begun a mass vaccination campaign aimed at young children and women of childbearing years, inoculating 58,150 people as of Sunday.

Other nations in the Pacific region, such as New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, have also seen an uptick in measles cases.

"Unfortunately the case (to) fatality rate of measles is much higher than people realize", he told Radio New Zealand.

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