At least 15 children in Samoa are now reported to have died from measles or its complications as the epidemic takes hold in Samoa.

The Samoa Observer said two independent sources had confirmed that 15 children and one adult died from measles-related complications in either the intensive care unit or the emergency department of the hospital.

The figure given by the National Emergency Coordination Centre is 15 measles-related deaths.

Two of the latest deaths were prematurely born babies, one to a mother who had the clinical symptoms of measles.

The Samoa Observer also reports that the five-year-old twin children of the only adult to have died from measles so far have also died. The second child died last Saturday.

Director General of the Ministry of Health Leausa Take Naseri said a pregnant woman lost her unborn child, but denied that the mother was a confirmed case of measles, only suspected.

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Samoa declared a state of emergency on Friday, making measles vaccinations mandatory and banning public gatherings involving children.

New Zealand is sending medical staff, vaccines and supplies to Samoa.

Surgical face masks are now becoming a common sight in the shops and streets of Apia as the community responds to the measles epidemic.

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 /radionz