New Zealand steps up response to measles outbreak in Samoa

New Zealand is sending 18 more vaccination nurses to respond to the measles outbreak in Samoa as the death toll rises. 

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At least 11 people are dead and the nation is under a state of emergency. Source: 1 NEWS

A state of emergency has been declared in Samoa and at least 11 people have died. It is now compulsory for all members of the public to be vaccinated against measles in the Pacific island nation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the numbers of people infected with measles in Samoa continues to rise and the hospital system is under strain.

"A New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT) of ten doctors and nurses and support staff will deploy to Apia early tomorrow."

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1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver is in Apia, where she was invited to attend the joint funeral for two young cousins. Source: 1 NEWS

The deployment adds to 3000 vaccinations and 12 nurses that New Zealand is sending tomorrow. 

"We fully support Samoa’s efforts to immunise its population, contain the outbreak, and treat patients who are ill," Mr Peters said. 

"The medical assistance team will support Samoan health personnel, providing treatment and medical supplies in a district hospital on Upolu that is facing heavy demand due to the outbreak."

The support announced today is in addition to the deployment of 12 vaccination nurses, vaccines and medical supplies New Zealand committed to Samoa last week.

Ealier today, Mr Peters told 1 NEWS he was waiting to hear what further assistance Samoa needed, and the options were preparing human and medical utilities "and to help out as much as we possibly can".