WHO warns measles resurgent as Samoa deaths rise

18-month-old child Sione's father and mother Lupino and Fala'i say the boy was very active with a healthy appetite

Apology for cartoon

Officials on the Pacific island of Samoa said Monday more than 50 people, mostly children, have now died of measles - and there are almost 200 new cases.

He has ordered the government to cease non-essential operations on Thursday and Friday so public servants can help a mandatory vaccination campaign that aims to give anti-measles jabs to everyone aged below 60.

That age bracket has the most number of deaths, with a staggering 27 children lost to measles - the size of a classroom.

"All our schools are closed, national exams have been postponed", said Reverend Vavatau Taufao, general secretary of the Congregation Christian Church in Samoa.

A New Zealand newspaper has caused outrage for publishing a cartoon that made light of the measles crisis engulfing Samoa, which has killed 55 people so far, majority children under the age of four.

World Health Organization warned in October of a devastating comeback in measles epidemics as the number of reported cases rose by 300 per cent in the first three months of this year.

The Southern Pacific island nation's current outbreak is fueled by distrust and low vaccination rates.

The United States this year recorded the most measles cases since 1992, with at least 31 states reporting infections.

He said only electricity and water utility workers would be exempt and called on the nation to stand together to contain the outbreak.

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.

Samoa has seen an outpouring of support from other countries and is in the process of receiving hundreds of thousands of doses of the measles vaccine from its neighbors. The deaths were later found to have been caused by medications that were wrongly mixed.

Latest News