The Health Bureau (SSM) is considering mandatory measles shots for non-resident workers, Lam Chong, director of the bureau’s Disease Prevention and Control Centre, said Wednesday.
Lam made the remarks during a press conference at the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre about the measles situation in Macau.
Lam pointed out that Macau was officially declared measles free in 2014, when it was one of the first four countries and regions in the Western Pacific region to have eradicated the disease.
However, Lam underlined that since the beginning of this year the Health Bureau has confirmed eight measles cases, of which five have been classified as imported cases and three as cases related to imported measles.
He pointed out that various regions have registered measles outbreaks lately, such as mainland China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Europe.
Lam said that three measles cases were confirmed by the Health Bureau last year, adding that this year was seeing a “significant” year-on-year increase in such cases.
Lam warned the public that measles is a highly contagious disease. He also stressed that measles can result in serious complications such as encephalitis and pneumonia, adding that the mortality rate is between 1/1,000 and 1/100.
Lam said that due to the “serious epidemiological situation” of the disease in neighbouring regions, the situation in Macau this year could potentially be worse than in previous years. However, he was quick to add that he expected the local situation to remain under control.
He urged certain population groups to be vaccinated against measles, namely babies aged between 12 and 18 months; those who never received their two doses of vaccination between the ages of 18 months and 18 years; those born after 1970 who never had the disease and were not vaccinated against measles after their first birthday.
Lam urged the employers of Macau’s non-resident workers, from the Philippines and Vietnam in particular, to pay close attention to the measles situation in their workers’ home countries. If their vaccination status is unknown, they should be given measles shots, Lam said.
According to Lam, non-resident workers can be vaccinated against measles at a private hospital or at one of the bureau’s public health centres. Each shot costs less than 100 patacas at the public health centres, Lam pointed out.
Leong Iek Hou, the bureau’s public health consulting physician, revealed during the press conference that two more measles cases were recorded in the past 24 hours (at the time of the press conference). One of the patients is a 38-year-old female doctor at the private Kiang Wu Hospital who recently treated a measles patient. The other patient is a 37-year-old non-resident worker from Nepal who works as a groom for the Macau Jockey Club.Leong added there are also two suspected measles cases still awaiting diagnosis.(Macaunews)