MANILA - The number of measles cases in regions hit by an outbreak of the deadly disease is still "manageable" and does not justify the declaration of a state of calamity, Senator Richard Gordon said in a statement released Wednesday.
Some 4,300 individuals have been infected with measles while at least 70 died to the disease as of Sunday evening, the Department of Health said.
"We're not in danger of a pandemic or an epidemic right now, It's manageable, therefore what you need right now is a call to arms to make sure that everybody is conscious of the need to immunize and that kids must be immunized," Gordon was quoted as saying during Monday's response cluster meeting in a statement from his office.
"We don't have the numbers to justify that (declaration of a state of calamity). So let's not go slip-shod into something that we are not ready for, that doesn't call for it," added the senator who also chairs the Philippine Red Cross.
Measles, caused by a virus that infects the respiratory tract, can be passed through direct contact and through the air. Its complications include severe diarrhea, pneumonia, blindness, and even death, according to the DOH.
An outbreak of the disease has been declared in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas.
Under the law, a state of calamity is defined as a "a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard."
This state would allow local governments to tap calamity funds.
With the midterm elections set for May 13, some politicians could exploit the state of calamity, said Gordon.
"This is the election period, and excuse na naman yan to spend money," he said.
"What is important is that we show that we're doing something to address the problem. What is important here is a notice to all to catch up with our immunization program," added the lawmaker.
Vaccines against measles are available for free at public hospitals and health centers.