By NICK PERRY, Related Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Samoa’s primary streets have been eerily quiet on Thursday as the federal government stepped up {efforts} to curb a measles epidemic that has killed 62 folks.

The federal government instructed most private and non-private staff to remain house on Thursday and Friday and shut down roads to nonessential autos as groups started going door-to-door to manage vaccines.

Households within the Pacific island nation have been requested to hold purple flags from their homes in the event that they wanted to be vaccinated.

Most of those that have died from the virus are younger, with 54 deaths amongst kids aged Four or youthful.

The Samoa Observer newspaper mentioned the usually bustling capital Apia was a ghost city on Thursday, with solely birds nesting within the rooftops and stray canine roaming the streets.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi instructed reporters the vaccine drive was unprecedented within the nation’s historical past.

He mentioned one problem was that lots of people hadn’t thought-about that measles may very well be lethal.

“They appear to take a sort of lackadaisical angle to all of the warnings that we had issued by means of the tv and likewise by means of the radio,” he mentioned.

One other problem, he mentioned, was that others had been in search of assist from conventional healers, who had been efficiently treating tropical illnesses in Samoa for some 4,000 years.

“A few of our folks pay a go to to conventional healers considering that measles is a typical tropical illness, which it isn’t,” the prime minister mentioned.

Samoan authorities imagine the virus was first unfold by a traveler from New Zealand.

The nation declared a nationwide emergency final month and mandated that every one 200,000 folks get vaccinated. The federal government has additionally closed all colleges and banned kids from public gatherings.

In accordance with the federal government, greater than 4,000 folks have contracted the illness for the reason that outbreak started and 172 folks stay in hospitals, together with 19 kids in essential situation.

Figures from the World Well being Group and UNICEF point out that fewer than 30% of Samoan infants have been immunized final yr. That low price was exacerbated by a medical mishap that killed two infants who have been administered a vaccine that had been incorrectly combined, inflicting wider delays and mistrust within the vaccination program.

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