MANILA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in the measles outbreak in the Philippines has reached 203, according to the latest data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released on Tuesday.
Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23, 12,736 measles cases including 203 deaths were officially reported nationwide through the routine surveillance system from the Philippines Department of Health, OCHA said.
OCHA said this is a significant increase compared to 2,789 cases and 25 deaths reported in the same period in 2018.
With a median age of two years old, 57 percent of measles cases are under five years old, it said.
Data from 2018 showed that 10 percent of cases were between six and 15 years of age, whereas 15 percent were between 16 and 30 years of age. "The majority of measles cases are male at 53 percent," OCHA said.
As of Feb. 23, it said 63 percent of cases were not vaccinated.
"The overall risk remains high because of a large number of unprotected children and adults," OCHA said.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease transmitted by respiratory droplets and direct contact.
"The occurrence of the epidemic in several densely populated urban areas promotes the rapid spread of the disease," OCHA added.
OCHA said Measles vaccination coverage (MCV1 and MCV2) at national level is low and there are several pockets of under-immunized communities.
On Feb. 6, the DOH declared a "measles outbreak" in Metro Manila. A day later, the Department of Health announced that the measles outbreak had spread to more areas in the Philippine main Luzon island, Western Visayas and Central Visayas in the central Philippines.