Samoa reports 249 measles cases in last 24 hours

New Zealand increases Samoa measles aid as epidemic worsens

New Zealand increases Samoa measles aid as epidemic worsens

The Samoan government confirmed on Friday that there have been three more deaths in Samoa's measles epidemic, bringing the death toll to 42 since the measles outbreak started in Mid-October this year.

Radio New Zealand reports that a mass vaccination campaign is underway with dozens of New Zealand and Australian nurses in Samoa to assist.

According to a government statement on Saturday, all but four of the deaths are children under the age of four.

The health ministry said 3,149 cases of measles have been reported, with 213 during the last 24 hours.

Samoa's top health official has said the epidemic is yet to peak.

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"New Zealand is also looking to provide psychological support for health workers in Samoa, who have been confronted with some distressing cases in very demanding conditions", he added.

Almost 200 people are now hospitalised with measles, including 20 critically ill children in intensive care.

Due to low immunistation rates the outbreak has hit harder in Samoa than Pacific neighbours Tonga and Fiji, where there have been fewer measles cases and no deaths.

Measles cases are rising worldwide, even in wealthy nations such as Germany and the United States, as parents shun immunization for philosophical or religious reasons, or fears, debunked by doctors, that such vaccines could cause autism.

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