02/07/2019, 15.49
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Health scare sparked after 22 die in measles outbreak in Manila, Luzon and Visayas

In January alone, 1,813 cases of infection were confirmed. Calabarzon is the most affected region with 575 cases, including nine deaths. A lack of immunisation is the main cause: 2.4 million children have not been vaccinated.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A measles epidemic that broke out in Metro ​​Manila has now spread to other parts of the country, the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) has announced.

At least 22 people, mostly children, have died but the tally is expected to rise.

The number of measles cases rose from 791 in 2017 to 5,120 in 2018. This year, 1,813 cases were confirmed for January.

The latest data indicate that the outbreak killed 30 people in the first eight months of last year and five in all of 2017.

The DOH yesterday said that since 26 January, 441 cases were recorded in Metro ​​Manila, compared to 36 cases in 2018.

The epidemic has now spread to Luzon as well as Central and Eastern Visayas, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

The most affected region is Calabarzon, which includes the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, with 575 cases, including nine deaths. In Metro Manila, five people have died. In Luzon, 192 cases were reported with four deaths.

For the DOH, the regions need to scale up their response against measles and have all children vaccinated.

A lack of immunisations is behind the outbreak, said DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo. According to the department, 2.4 million children have not received their vaccines.

One reason for this is that many parents have been reluctant to have their children immunised at government health centres, following complications related to a dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.

In 2017, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur reported that the vaccine presented risks to people who had not been infected prior to immunisation. This led the DOH to suspend its immunisation programme that had begun under then President Benigno Aquino III.

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