MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday confirmed a measles outbreak in the National Capital Region (NCR).
"Yes, this afternoon, (Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque officially declared the outbreak in the National Capital Region after seeing the numbers and as of February 2, we had about 861 suspect measles cases all over Metro Manila and it is quite high," DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in a television interview.
Duque clarified that the cases showed "all clinical signs and symptoms of measles".
"Of course, the laboratory testing, and results confirmation may take some time because blood testing takes time and we have to send it to the RITM [Research Institute for Tropical Medicine] to confirm for measles," he said.
To contain the outbreak, Domingo said the DOH has instructed its medical teams to perform necessary measures to keep the measles virus from spreading.
"That's why our teams are going around the cities, and they are doing the outbreak management and it includes vaccination of all children in the community," he said.
Domingo attributed the rise in measles cases nationwide to the low average of measles vaccinations as a result of the Dengvaxia controversy.
He noted that the cities that recorded the highest measles cases are Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan, Marikina, Pasig, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, and Malabon.
The DOH Epidemiology Bureau (DOH EB) reported that the number of measles cases in the NCR already reached 196 from January 1 to 19. This is much higher compared to the 20 cases recorded during the same period in 2018.
In 2018, the DOH EB recorded 3,646 measles cases in the region against the 351 cases in 2017.
According to the latest data of the bureau, the total number of measles cases nationwide has increased by 547 percent. There were only 791 cases from January 1 to December 31, 2017 and 5,120 cases from January 1 to December 2018.
The DOH said it is also closely monitoring the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa (Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Cordillera region, and Caraga for measles.
Domingo urged the public to take the necessary precautions against the viral disease.
"Pinakikiusap po natin sa mga magulang na kapag may tigdas po sa inyong lugar, unang-una po ay ilayo na ang ating mga anak at pumunta po sa pinakamalapit na barangay health station natin para po mapabukanahan at ma-protektahan ang ating mga anak (We request the parents -- if there is measles in your area, first of all keep your children away and go to the nearest barangay health station for vaccination and to protect the children)," he added. (PNA)