A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. File photo/Reuters
The South Pacific island nation of Samoa has lifted a six week-state of emergency after the infection rate from a measles outbreak that has swept the country started to come under control.
Samoa's island population of just 200,000 has been gripped by the highly infectious disease that has killed 81 people, most of them babies and young children, and infected more than 5,600 people.
The government said in a statement late on Saturday that the emergency orders, which included aggressive measures to contain the virus such as closing schools and restricting travel, put in place last month had ended.
Measles cases are on the rise globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany, where some parents shun life-saving vaccines due to false theories suggesting links between childhood immunizations and autism.
Death and infection rates in Samoa started to slow in mid-December after a vaccine drive pushed immunisation rates towards 95%, the level aid agencies say is effective in creating "herd immunity" that can contain the disease.
Earlier in the year, an outbreak of measles hit the New Zealand city of Auckland, a hub for travel to and from small Pacific islands.
The disease soon found a highly susceptible population in Samoa which had far lower vaccination rates than its neighbours.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that measles cases are skyrocketing in Europe and the disease is surging in four countries previously considered to have eliminated
Measles is caused by a virus and can lead to serious complications including pneumonia and inflammation of the brain that can do permanent damage and be deadly, especially in small children.
Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the issue is hugely worrisome.
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