Samoan government shuts down over measles outbreak

Dec. 2, 2019

 The Samoan government will shut down for two days as part of a series of drastic steps being taken to stop a deadly outbreak of measles.

The government will shut its doors Thursday and Friday and redeploy civil servants to help deal the 3,728 reported cases of measles. Fifty-three people — 48 of them children younger than 4 — have been killed by the disease in the South Pacific island nation in recent weeks.

Samoa's government officially declared a state of emergency on November 15 and began a mass vaccination campaign five days later. Schools throughout Samoa have been shut indefinitely since November 17.

Vaccination rates in Samoa plummeted to just 31 percent after two children died in 2018 after receiving vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella. The deaths were later established to have been due to the nurses mixing the vaccine with an expired muscle relaxant, instead of water.

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