MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The South Pacific island nation of Samoa on Saturday extended a state of emergency due to a measles outbreak which has killed 72 people, mostly infants, as New Zealand announced NZ$1 million ($640,700) to help combat measles in the Pacific.
Samoa said a state of emergency will be extended to Dec. 29 with 5,154 cases of measles now reported since the outbreak started in October. Samoa has a population of only 200,000.
Measles started appearing en masse earlier this year in the New Zealand city of Auckland, a hub for travel to and from small South Pacific islands.
The majority of those who have died in Samoa due to the highly infectious disease have been aged four and under. The island nation had a far lower vaccination rate than its regional neighbors.
Following a mandatory immunization campaign, the Samoan government said approximately 93% of all eligible people in Samoa have now been vaccinated against measles.
“Prevention through vaccination is the most…
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