MANILA: A measles outbreak has been declared in Metro Manila in the Philippines, according to the country's Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday (Feb 6).
As of last Saturday, at least 861 suspected cases of measles had been reported across the national capital region, said DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo, as reported by CNN Philippines.
As of Tuesday morning, seven children have died within a day from measles in Manila's San Lazaro Hospital, while at least 248 children are being treated for the disease, according to ABS-CBN.
The number of cases was "quite high", said Domingo, but assured the public that the authorities were responding to the outbreak.
Between Jan 1 to Jan 19, 196 outbreaks were recorded in the national capital region as compared to the 20 recorded there during the same period in 2018, according to a Rappler report.
In 2018, 3,646 measles cases were recorded in the region as compared to the 351 cases in 2017, it added.
According to Rappler, the regions that are under tight surveillance for measles include: Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Caraga.
MORE THAN 2 MILLION CHILDREN NOT VACCINATED
A lack of immunisations contributed to the outbreak, said Domingo. According to the DOH, 2.4 million children have not received their vaccines.
Parents were afraid of the adverse side effects of immunisation following the Dengvaxia scare a few years ago, said director of the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau Ruby Constantino, according to CNN Philippines.
Philippines stopped the sale and distribution of the dengue vaccine after the manufacturer warned that it could worsen symptoms for people who had not previously been infected with the virus.
"We really need to intensify, catch up with our vaccination levels here in the Philippines," said Domingo, as quoted by ABS-CBN.