LAHORE – Forty-six new cases of measles were reported in the provincial capital Monday.

According to sources in hospital, dozens of children affected by the disease have been admitted.

The sources said 16 kids aged between 6 and 8 were got to Children Hospital and 30 brought to Mayo Hospital.

Over 50 children in the province have lost their lives in last couple of months and dozens of more infected children were admitted on Sunday at various hospitals of different cities, including 47 patients in Lahore and 10 in Muzaffargarh.

On Sunday, the deadly disease withered three more flowers– a three year old girl in the provincial capital and two sisters, Farzana, 3, and Shahana, 6, in Ali Pur tehsil of Muzaffargarh. According to Punjab Health Secretary Capt Arif Nadeem, the children who died in Muzaffargarh on Sunday were not patients of measles but of diarrhoea.

Punjab Health Minister Salima Hashmi admitted that negligence in routine immunisation is the major cause of the measles onslaught. “Unfortunately due to lack of awareness among the masses, very few people are taking interest in immunisation of their children which is another reason of the spread of measles”, she said.

But Salima sought to defend the health and other relevant government officials by claiming that they were “taking every step to control the measles menace”.

She said that free treatment facilities were being extended to the affected children. She said that strict measures were being taken to remove the loopholes of immunisation coverage.

Moreover, Punjab government was planning to launch in June a Rs3.5 billion mass anti-measles campaign. Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi had had directed the Health Department to take immediate steps for measles prevention and ensure proper care and medical assistance to the infected children.

But his directions to the officials seemed to have fell on deaf ears as no immediate response plan was effected by the officials concerned and the toll continues unabated.

However, Health Secretary Arif Nadeem claimed that government was taking all possible steps and isolation wards have been established in all the hospitals of the province for measles patients where they were receiving special care.

He said that his department has provided anti-measles vaccination to all the centres at district and tehsil level as well as at dispensaries and basic health units in rural areas. Moreover, he said special vaccination points have been set up at important places of all the districts.  He said government was also planning a special vaccination drive across the province for children under 10.

On Monday, 46 children, affected by measles, were brought to hospitals in the provincial capital.