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Measles outbreak claims 20 lives

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Mantoetse Maama


MASERU — A countrywide measles outbreak has killed 20 children in four of Lesotho’s districts since the beginning of March.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday show that Quthing has the highest death toll at seven.

Maseru and Leribe have lost five children each while three more died in Thaba-Tseka, according to the report.

A total of 1 168 suspected cases have been reported countrywide with 49 confirmed cases.

The report was issued following a meeting of health officials from the country’s 10 districts held at Khotsong Lodge on Tuesday.

The health ministry has since launched a national immunisation campaign to combat the spread of the deadly disease.

Health spokesperson Tumisang Mokoai said the ministry was encouraged by the response from parents who have started taking their children for immunisation.

“At first people were not interested,” he said.

“We made an announcement that children should be taken to health centres a long time ago.

“But on Thursday and Friday all the clinics were teeming with parents and children who were coming to be immunised.

“That has motivated us as a ministry.”

Mokoai added: “Parents and communities should work with the ministry to fight this disease by taking children aged between six months and 15 for immunisation.”

He urged parents to take the ministry’s immunisation initiatives seriously.

“It is the intention of the Ministry of Health to save lives, particularly those of young children, by immunising them against this disease,” he said.

“Measles could be very dangerous if not prevented.”

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a virus.

While measles is best known for the full body rash it causes, the first symptoms of the infection are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever and red eyes.

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