MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The number of suspected cases of measles on the Pacific island of Samoa has more than doubled over the past week to 3,530 and deaths related to the outbreak rose to 48 from 20 a week ago, the country’s Ministry of Health said on Sunday.
Samoa has become vulnerable to measles outbreaks as the number of people becoming immunized has declined with the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying vaccine coverage is just about 31%.
The government started a mandatory vaccination program on Nov. 20 after declaring a state of emergency due to the outbreak. The health ministry said in its statement that 57,132 people have since been vaccinated.
Schools and universities have been closed and most public gatherings banned on the island state of just 200,000, located south of the equator and half way between Hawaii and New Zealand.
Of the 48 deaths, 44 where among children under the age of four. Since Saturday, there have been 173 new cases of measles recorded and four…
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