Measles outbreak in Samoa kills dozens of children, puts island nation in holiday lockdown
2019-12-02 from cbc.ca
The small Pacific island nation of Samoa has closed schools and is restricting travel ahead of the holiday season as the death toll from a measles outbreak tops 50 in the latest flare-up of a global epidemic of the virus.
The vast majority of the dead are children under four years old, according to a government update.
The highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where vaccine coverage was only about 31 per cent when measles took hold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In just over two weeks, the official death toll has jumped more than tenfold to 53 on Monday, the Samoan government said. There are now more than 3,700 cases of measles recorded in the population of around 200,000.
Samoa declared a national emergency last month and mandated that everyone in the country get vaccinated.
"All our schools are closed, national exams have been postponed," Rev. 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."
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