Pacific measles toll rises to 39

ANOTHER six deaths have been reported in in Samoa's measles epidemic, bringing the toll to 39.
Pacific measles toll rises to 39 Pacific measles toll rises to 39 Pacific measles toll rises to 39 Pacific measles toll rises to 39 Pacific measles toll rises to 39

Radio New Zealand International

All but four of the deaths are children under the age of four, including the six who died in the past 24 hours.
 
And 190 people with the disease remain in hospital, including 25 critically ill children and pregnant women.
 
A mass vaccination campaign is underway with dozens of New Zealand and Australian nurses in Samoa to assist.
 
Samoa's top health official predicted on Wednesday the worst was still to come.
 
Health director-general for Leausa, Dr Take Naseri, said more children needed to be reached.
 
"We are still not satisfied with the coverage of the six months to the four years. We still haven't crossed 40% of that age group.
 
"The other age groups are doing steadily, but we are still worried that most of the kids are not coming forward or not being brought by their parents."
 
Meanwhile the University of Fiji has postponed its graduation ceremony in Suva next month because of the measles outbreak in the country.
 
There are now 13 confirmed cases in Fiji. The university said the delay followed a directive of the education ministry.
 
In a statement, vice chancellor Sushila Chang apologised for the inconvenience caused but said it was important the university acted responsibly to prevent the spread of the disease.
 
The ceremony will now be held in March 2020.
 
Meanwhile, Fijian taxi drivers say they are at risk of contracting the measles disease and are calling on health authorities to provide vaccination programmes for them.
 
Restrictions have been placed on the limited supply of the vaccine in the country.
 
The Health Ministry said it was prioritising the vaccine for those in affected areas, children aged between six months and three years, and those travelling overseas.
 
But the drivers from Lautoka told the Fiji Times there was growing concerns over the exposure to the virus because of the cabbies' interaction with the public on a daily basis.
 
Some drivers said they were turned away from health centres as priority was only given to hotel workers and those travelling overseas.
 

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