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'No local cases of measles,' Tufton insists

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton this afternoon advised the country that his ministry is monitoring the island for any imported case of measles.

The move, Tufton said, is against the backdrop of the recent increase in cases of the disease in the United States and across the region.

Tufton told Parliament that in response to the increase in cases worldwide, his ministry since the beginning of the year enhanced its response, including sensitisation and training of approximately 60 healthcare professionals in the health regions in measles outbreak response, with mandatory training of rapid response teams across the island.

At the same time, Opposition People's National Party (PNP) Dr Dayton Campbell challenged Tufton's statement insisting that a case of measles was recorded at a private hospital on the western end of the island.

Tufton, in response, clarified that the person who was treated had measles in another jurisdiction and developed complication on their arrival in the island.

“There are no cases of measles in Jamaica,” Tufton insisted, adding that there is no threat to the population.

In the meantime, the minister noted that as at 30 March 2019, there were 3,674 suspected cases and 596 confirmed cases in the region of the Americas with over 300 of the confirmed cases from the USA.

In Europe, in January 2019, there were 881 cases of measles reported from 19 countries, he added.

The minister noted that in order to stop the disease from spreading, 95 per cent of children in Jamaica need to be fully vaccinated with the two doses -- MMR1 at 12 months and MMR2 at 18 months.

However, he said that there has been a decrease in uptake of the vaccines over the last few years, noting that in 2018, Jamaica had 89 per cent coverage of MMR1 and 82 cent coverage of MMR2.

Tufton made an appeal to all parents to visit the nearest health centre to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated as measles kills more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

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