23 infants among 53 measles deaths in Samoa

Monday, December 02, 2019

The small Pacific island nation of Samoa has closed schools and is restricting travel ahead of the Christmas holiday season as the death toll from a measles outbreak surpasses 50, in the latest flare-up of a global epidemic of the virus

So far, 53 people have died. Of these, 50 were children under the age of 15 years while 23 were babies aged less than one year old. Only one death has been an adult over the age of 18, a New Zealand media report said. In the last 24 hours a further 198 cases have also been confirmed by the Ministry of Health, thr wesbite, Stuff reported.

The highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where vaccine coverage was only about 31 percent when measles took hold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In just over two weeks, the official death toll has jumped more than 10-fold to 53 today, the Samoan government said.

There are now more than 3,700 cases of measles recorded in the islands' religious population of around 200,000.

"All our schools are closed, national exams have been postponed," Reverend Vavatau Taufao, general secretary of the Congregation Christian Church in Samoa, told Reuters. "We are still having church services but if it gets worse we will have to stop church altogether - and it's almost Christmas."

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.

The Tuivale family seen here in the photo live in the village of Lauli’i, 9km from the capital of Apia. Their home, tucked among their plantation of pineapple, banana, taro and papaya trees is at the very back of a long dirt road that follows the Namo river, The Guardian reports.-Reuters/The Standard. Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer/The Guardian