Curfew lifted in Samoa after deadly measles outbreak
Almost 90 per cent of eligible Samoans have been vaccinated against measles, prompting the government to lift a two-day curfew lifted following an outbreak that has recently killed 65 people.
There were, however, 103 new cases of measles reported since Friday, Samoa's Health Ministry said in a statement.
The virus has infected almost 4500 people in the South Pacific nation of just 200,000 since late October. Of those who died, 57 were children aged under four.
The mandatory immunisation campaign aims to vaccinate 90 per cent of the population, tripling Samoa's coverage. The government said a rate of 89 per cent had been achieved as of Friday.
Masked children wait to get vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa, in November.Credit:TVNZ
Measles cases are rising worldwide, even in wealthy nations like Germany and the United States, as parents shun immunisation for philosophical or religious reasons, or misguided fears vaccines can cause autism.
Samoa and the United Nations appealed on Friday to the international community for about $US10.7 million ($15.7 million) to battle and recover from the crisis.
"The impacts of this emergency will be far reaching on Samoa and our people, particularly our young generations," Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said.
"It is imperative therefore to strengthen the culture of acceptance of vaccination in order to create 'herd immunity'. This is a painful lesson we have learnt from the current crisis."
New Zealand and other countries and organisations including UNICEF have delivered thousands of vaccines and medical supplies and sent medical personnel to help.
The World Health Organisation said this week measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000 – mostly children.
The picture for 2019 is worse, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase in cases compared with the same period in 2018.
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