Samoa measles crisis: Death toll hits 55

The death toll from the Samoa measles crisis is continuing to rise with 55 confirmed deaths.

On Tuesday morning, the Samoan government said the number of measles-related fatalities climbed by another two overnight. The vast majority of the deaths so far are those under four years old.

Since the outbreak began on the Pacific island, the Samoan Ministry of Health says 3881 cases have been reported - 153 in the past 24 hours.

Around a third of these - 1178 people - have been admitted to hospital, and 174 of these remain as an in-patient in a health facility.

On Monday, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced the government will shut down due to the measles outbreak.

All services except water and electricity will be closed, and staff have been instructed to help with the country's mass vaccination campaign.

"The public service and all government services will be closed from 5th to the 6th of December in order to allow all public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the country," he said.

So far, 67 percent of children between six months and four years old have been vaccinated in both Upolu and Savai'i, the two largest Samoan islands.

Efforts to combat the outbreak have been hampered by a low turnout rate for child vaccination, a lack of medical staff and health infrastructure and alternative medical beliefs.

On Thursday Newshub revealed Fritz Alai'asa, an alternative healer, has been treating patients with measles with alkaline water instead of taking them to hospital.

When Newshub visited his clinic on Thursday there were large numbers of visibly unwell babies and young people - and large gatherings are banned under state of emergency rules.

While waiting to see Alai'asa, a man believed to have measles collapsed and became unresponsive.

Rather than take him immediately to hospital, Alai'asa and his team poured water over his head and neck. After this failed to revive the man, he was eventually taken to the hospital.

After Newshub's revelations, police shut his business down.

The Samoan Prime Minister has spoken out against alternative cures and traditional healing, condemning them as useless against the disease.

"We need to understand the following issues, first vaccinations is the only cure. Two if affected cases are presented early for treatment full recovery is expected," he said.

"Thirdly no traditional healers or Kangen water preparations can cure measles."