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Dengue death and outbreak confirmed in Tonga

[SN file photo]

Tonga has declared a dengue outbreak following the death of a New Zealand girl in the country last week.

The 12-year-old had been visiting family in Tonga over the Christmas holidays.

The chief executive of Tonga's Ministry of Health said there were 19 confirmed cases of dengue in the country, all on the main island Tonga'tapu.

Siale 'Akau'ola said the Pacific health surveillance network had been notified of the outbreak and would in turn advise regional governments.

According to Dr 'Akau'ola, the focus in Tonga was on eradication of mosquito breeding grounds and containment of the disease.

"What we are doing immediately at the moment is distributing mosquito nets, providing insect repellent, especially for homes where we have cases," he said.

"We provide the families with insect repellents. The ministry tries to buy it, the Red Cross providing the bed nets."

Siale 'Akau'ola said it was important that infected people use mosquito nets vigilantly so as to avoid insects biting them and spreading the illness to others.