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More than 70 deaths nationwide linked to measles outbreak

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8) — More than 70 people have died this year due to measles after the Health Department declared an outbreak of the highly contagious disease in different regions.

Department of Health (DOH) Spokesperson Enrique Domingo reported around 72 deaths among more than 2,000 cases of measles nationwide. Fifty five of the deaths were from San Lazaro Hospital, Manila in January alone.  


"All over the country I think we have more than 2,000 cases and we've had deaths, in San Lazaro alone we have 55 deaths in January," Domingo told CNN Philippines' New Day.


In CALABARZON, Domingo reported nine deaths, while in Region III there were four deaths from measles. The DOH also recorded three deaths in Region VI (Western Visayas) and one death in Region VII (Central Visayas), Domingo said.

Meanwhile, an initial report from the Health Department also recorded two deaths in Ilocos Region and one death in Bicol Region from January 1 to January 26, 2019. 


This comes after the DOH declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila and Central Luzon last week and in CALABARZON, Western and Central Visayas on Thursday. 

Health officials attributed the rising number of measles cases to a long-term decline in vaccination coverage. According to DOH records, 960,457 children have not been vaccinated for the first three quarters of 2018, a spike from its 2017 figure of 855,039.

Domingo explained that children can receive vaccines as young as six months old if their mothers have not been vaccinated. If the mother has been vaccinated, the child can receive the vaccine by nine months old. 

"It's safe. Usually we give that nine months old because assuming that the mother is vaccinated or has measles antibodies and at birth during breastfeeding they can give the antibodies to the children, which usually protects them until nine months old," he said. 

Domingo assured that the government has enough supplies of vaccines to provide for vulnerable communities. 

"We have enough supplies because every year the Philippines buys enough vaccines to cover the whole vulnerable population and this year we ordered extra doses from UNICEF (United National International Emergency Fund)," he said. 

He added that they are also coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross to set up temporary tents, specifically in San Lazaro Hospital, to admit more patients. 



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