Otago Daily Times apologises for publishing cartoon making fun of Samoa's measles epidemic

Otago Daily Times has apologised for publishing a cartoon making fun of Samoa's measles epidemic.

Controversial cartoon published in Otago Daily Times. Source: Twitter

At least 55 people, most of them children, have died due to measles in the country since the outbreak began.

Today, the newspaper published a cartoon by artist Garrick Tremain on the outbreak that has drawn condemnation from many.

The cartoon features two older white woman leaving a travel agents, with one remarking to the other: "I asked 'what are the least popular spots at the moment?' she said 'the ones people are picking up in Samoa.'"

The cartoon was slammed by many, including TVNZ1's Breakfast presenter John Campbell.

"This is terrible, ODT. What a shameful assault on the cartoonists' art - and on empathy, decency, human feeling, and the people of a country with which we're so close," Campbell wrote on Twitter.

"As Sita says, most of the 55 lives lost have been under 5. Who would draw this? Who would publish this? And why?"

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The government will shut down on December 5 and 6 as it grapples with the epidemic. Source: 1 NEWS

This afternoon the ODT issued an apology over the cartoon on their website.

"Today the Otago Daily Times published a cartoon making reference to the measles crisis in Samoa."

"The content and timing of the cartoon was insensitive and we apologise for publishing it."