Samoa measles death toll rises to 32

Surgical face masks are now becoming a common sight in the shops and streets of Apia as the community responds to the measles epidemic. - Photo: RNZ Pacific / Jenny Meyer

Samoa's measles epidemic has claimed the lives of 32 people, a sharp increase on a day ago.

All but four of the deaths are children under the age of four.

Since yesterday, 243 cases of the disease have been recorded, with 176 people currently in hospital.

Meanwhile, the government said 24,000 people had so far been immunised in a compulsory mass vaccination campaign launched under a state of emergency.

Yesterday, an investigation was launched after 60 doses had to be destroyed because they were incorrectly stored at an unauthorised private clinic.

Samoa's Director General Of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, initially said 6000 vaccine doses but the ministry has today released a statement attributing that to a "slip of [the] tongue".

A ban on under-19s travelling between the islands of Upolu and Savai'i has been lifted.