Samoa declares state of emergency after measles deaths

Nov 19, 2019, 9:16 AM
Samoa has declared a state of emergency after several deaths linked to a measles outbreak, closing schools and placing restrictions on public gatherings, the Reuters news agency reported. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN) — Samoa has declared a state of emergency after several deaths linked to a measles outbreak, closing schools and placing restrictions on public gatherings.

Some 14 children under the age of five and one adult have died from the epidemic in the South Pacific island nation, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF confirmed Tuesday.

The Samoa Ministry of Health declared a measles outbreak on October 16, according to UNICEF, who said there had been more than 1000 suspected cases so far.

Schools have been temporarily shut and children under the age of 17 have been advised by government officials not to attend public gatherings to stop the spread of the disease, UNICEF said.

Measles has seen a wide resurgence around the world — in both high-income countries in the Americas and Europe and lower-income nations in Asia and Africa — fueled in part by fear of and lack of access to vaccines, and complacency.

Almost 350,000 measles cases were reported globally in 2018, according to UNICEF — more than doubling from 2017.

On Monday, Winston Peters, New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, said his country would send vaccination nurses and a medical assistance team of doctors and nurses to Samoa to support the country’s immunization program.

“On 15 November the Government of Samoa declared a State of Emergency as the numbers of people infected with measles continues to rise and the hospital system is under strain,” Peters said.

“Measles is highly contagious, and the outbreak has taken lives in Samoa. It is in everybody’s interests that we work together to stop its spread,” Peters said in a separate statement on Friday.

David Durrheim, conjoint professor at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle in Australia, told CNN affiliate SBS News that Samoa has long had low levels of vaccination.

According to the World Health Organization, roughly 95% of a population needs to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles vaccine to ensure herd immunity.

Measles coverage in Samoa was 40% for the first dose of the vaccine in 2018 and 28% for the second dose, according to UNICEF.

“This latest outbreak in Samoa shows us how important it (is) for vaccination programs to reach children with lifesaving vaccines all over the world,” Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s chief of immunization, told CNN in a statement.

“We are alarmed that measles cases globally have increased in 2019. This has happened largely due to a combination of conflict, insecurity, a breakdown or interruption in services and mistrust of vaccinations,” he added.

In Tonga, another South Pacific nation, the Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of measles following the return of Tongan rugby players from New Zealand, where one player developed the illness.

In a report released on Wednesday, the ministry said 251 cases of confirmed or suspected measles have been identified.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories


Baby Formula Shortagae...
Aubri Wuthrich

Shortage of baby formula continues to worry parents

While the baby formula shortage has improved since earlier this year, experts say there still isn't enough.
1 day ago
A Utah doctor says Americans should not avoid a preventative test for colon cancer, despite a recen...
Simone Seikaly

After celebrity death to colon cancer, Utah doctor weighs in on colonoscopy

Colon cancer and colonoscopies are in the news after the death of actress Kirstie Alley to colorectal cancer.
1 day ago
A woman wishing not to be identified shows her sadness after the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake ran ou...
Waverly Golden

Expert joins Inside Sources on women accessing homeless resources

Emily Darowski, Associate Director for the Utah Women and Leadership Project, discusses a recent study the project conducted on women accessing homeless resources in Utah.
2 days ago
KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic discuss how to deal with and overcome seasonal depression....
Mark Jones

How to deal with and overcome seasonal depression

KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic discuss how to deal with and overcome seasonal depression.
2 days ago
a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
2 days ago
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19:  The U.S. Capitol is shown as a looming government shutdown threatens ...
Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly, CNN

Defense bill likely to include end to military Covid vaccine mandate, source says

A massive bill setting defense policy is likely to end the military Covid vaccine mandate, a source familiar with the negotiations tells CNN.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Samoa declares state of emergency after measles deaths