As Samoa reels in grief, fears grow that not all child measles deaths have been reported

There are fears that the death toll from Samoa’s measles epidemic is under reported because victims are often buried straight away with the death not being reported to authorities.

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There is growing anger in Samoa about how the spread of the disease has been handled. Source: 1 NEWS

“That’s the case in one measles case and there are likely to be others,” said 1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver, who is in Samoa to cover the crisis.

Seventeen measles sufferers remain in intensive care, with the epidemic far from over. Seventy people have died, with 61 of those aged younger than four years old.

When it is brought under control, officials from the Ministry of Women and Community Development will travel to villages to survey for unaccounted victims.

For now, the grief is raw for families around the country with so many babies lost.

Emite Talaalevea lost her eight-month-old baby girl just a fortnight ago. She’s five months pregnant and despite family support is finding it difficult to cope.

“I was shocked, it was very hard for me to accept what had happened,” Ms Talaalevea told 1 NEWS.

Victim Support Samoa's Lena Chang and her team are doing what they can to mend the psychological damage that families are left with, but it's not easy.

“This is the way we see our work - we want to offer moral support for them as families we want them to know there are other people who care about them,” Ms Chang said.

While families mourn, there is also anger at how the virus spread so quickly

Two-year-old Mireta was originally taken to hospital with a broken arm but her parents have no doubt that's where she contracted the measles.

In the waiting area, measles and non-measles cases were all seated together.

Alieta Iosefa, a 10-year-old who was buried in the weekend, also likely contracted the measles at hospital.