WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – The small Pacific island nation of Samoa has closed schools and is restricting travel ahead of the Christmas 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 highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where vaccine coverage was only about 31% when measles took hold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In just over two weeks, the official death toll has jumped more than ten-fold to 53 on Monday, the Samoan government said. There are now more than 3,700 cases of measles recorded in the islands’ deeply religious population of around 200,000.
“All our schools are closed, national exams have been postponed,” Reverend 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…
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