Emergency services are stretched to the limit dealing with a measles outbreak in Samoa. Measles, one of the most contagious diseases known has killed 22 people, all the deaths, except one, were of children younger than five years old. The South Pacific island has declared a state of emergency, with nearly 2,000 cases of measles reported.
The island state of about 200,000, south of the equator and halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, declared a measles epidemic late in October after the first deaths were reported.
The government has initiated a mass mandatory vaccination program. However, 153 new cases presented on Saturday. New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said his country would send 3,000 doses of vaccine and 12 nurses to Samoa to assist with the outbreak.
Australia is sending a specialist team of doctors, nurses and public health experts to Samoa, along with equipment and supplies, the foreign ministry said in a statement.