Samoa measles outbreak: Death toll rises to 25, mostly children under 5

Parents in Fiji have been urged to vaccinate their children against measles

Parents in Fiji have been urged to vaccinate their children against measles

In an update on the measles outbreak on Samoa, health officials have reported a doubling of cases in recent days.

The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, said a second private clinic which provided vaccination had done so after being approved by the previous National Health Services.

Deaths related to measles, mostly among small children, have more than tripled to 20 in the past week on the Pacific island of Samoa, the government has said eight days after declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak. He said there are about 20 critically ill children who remain in hospital intensive care units.

The country is in a state of emergency, with schools closed, a mass vaccination campaign underway, and public gatherings restricted.

The median age of those who have died is 13 months, according to government figures. In addition, the death toll has risen to 25, of which 24 were children.

Radio NZ reports the majority of them are at the main hospital in the capital, Apia.

The UN children's agency UNICEF has sent than 110,000 doses of measles vaccine and medical teams from Australia and New Zealand are helping administer them to the population of about 200,000.

Since the outbreak, Australian-Samoan anti-vaxxer Taylor Winterstein has likened Samoa's actions to Nazi Germany and suggested people are being forced into hiding to avoid getting immunised.

The outbreak of the infectious disease, believed to have originated in New Zealand, has swept across the Pacific, but Samoa has been hardest hit due to low vaccination rates.

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