Local media in Samoa are reporting there have now been 16 deaths, 15 of which are children, as the nation's measles crisis continues to cause a state of emergency.
The number is up from 11 reported yesterday.
1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver told TVNZ1’s Breakfast today that many more were also in intensive care.
But, sadly for some families, babies are being taken to hospital too late, she added.
“We were nearby a clinic and a father of a child came up to us and said, 'We were just at the clinic and this baby turned up with black lips and raced to hospital' - that is just too late. It really is a tragic situation,” Dreaver said.
“This situation is dire and there’s no other way of putting it.”
Dreaver said the low vaccination rate was the reason Samoa was hit so bad. It started in Samoa by people in New Zealand travelling there without knowing they had measles, as well as in Tonga where a group of rugby players took it back from New Zealand.
A medical team of 10 doctors, nurses and supporting staff leave from New Zealand today bound for Samoa. Also, New Zealand are sending 30 vaccination nurses and vaccinations in a rotational basis over the next month to support the island nation.
Samoa has implemented a state of emergency, outlining everyone entering the country must be vaccinated. There are also rules in place to limit children’s access to medical facilities and public events, including churches, have been banned for those under 17.
Fiji has taken action and also called off a women’s rugby game yesterday to minimise risk.
“It’s a massive challenge but they’re fighting back and how can you not when you’ve got so many bubbas who are so sick and dying?
“It’s just to stop that spread,” Dreaver said. “It’s children dying of it. Adults are starting to catch it now too.”