Philippines says 136 people have died in measles outbreak

Philippines says 136 people have died in measles outbreak

Philippines says 136 people have died in measles outbreak

Philippine parents and guardians urged to bring their children aged six to 59 months to health centers for free measles vaccination.

Since declaring a measles outbreak on February 6, the DOH has reported 8,443 cases of measles and 136 deaths in the country as of last Saturday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said that a massive immunisation drive that was initiated last week in Manila and four other provincial regions is most likely to restrict the outbreak from spreading further. Many of those who lost their lives were not inoculated.

More than 830,000 children were injected with the vaccine under the campaign, which was launched in 2016 under President Aquino.

The Philippines stopped issuing Dengvaxia after Sanofi said a study showed the vaccine could actually increase the risks of severe dengue infections under certain conditions.

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The DOH on February 6 declared a major measles outbreak in Metro Manila, and later expanded to other areas of the Philippine main Luzon island and Central and Eastern Visayas in the central Philippines.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus which can be spread through sneezing or coughing.

Countries have until April to report measles cases registered in 2018 to the World Health Organization - but the United Nations agency said the data it had received so far showed that about 229,000 cases had already been reported. Skyrocketing measles rates in the country are believed to be due to vaccine refusal as well as a temporary breakdown in vaccine orders by the government a few years ago.

The department said this is three times higher than what was seen in the same period in 2018 with 2,534 cases.

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