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Samoa ends measles state of emergency as infection rate slows

In this November 2019, image from video, a child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa closed all its schools on Monday, Nov.18, 2019, banned children from public gatherings and mandated that everybody get vaccinated after declaring an emergency due to a measles outbreak. For the past three weeks, the Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in the grip of a measles epidemic that has been exacerbated by low immunization rates.

In this November 2019, image from video, a child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa closed all its schools on Monday, Nov.18, 2019, banned children from public gatherings and mandated that everybody get vaccinated after declaring an emergency due to a measles outbreak. For the past three weeks, the Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in the grip of a measles epidemic that has been exacerbated by low immunization rates.   | Photo Credit: AP

Samoa's island population of just 200,000 has been gripped by the highly infectious disease that has killed 81 people, most of them babies and young children, and infected more than 5,600 people.

The South Pacific island nation of Samoa has lifted a six week-state of emergency after the infection rate from a measles outbreak that has swept the country started to come under control.

Samoa's island population of just 200,000 has been gripped by the highly infectious disease that has killed 81 people, most of them babies and young children, and infected more than 5,600 people.

The government said in a statement late on Saturday that the emergency orders, which included aggressive measures to contain the virus such as closing schools and restricting travel, put in place last month had ended.

Measles cases are on the rise globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany, where some parents shun life-saving vaccines due to false theories suggesting links between childhood immunizations and autism.

Death and infection rates in Samoa started to slow in mid-December after a vaccine drive pushed immunisation rates towards 95%, the level aid agencies say is effective in creating ”herd immunity” that can contain the disease.

Earlier in the year, an outbreak of measles hit the New Zealand city of Auckland, a hub for travel to and from small Pacific islands.

The disease soon found a highly susceptible population in Samoa which had far lower vaccination rates than its neighbours.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 1:51:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/samoa-ends-measles-state-of-emergency-as-infection-rate-slows/article30424223.ece

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