Health Bureau (SSM) Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Director Lam Chong attending Sunday’s Macau Forum as a guest speaker said his bureau has provisionally concluded that Macau’s measles situation is under control.
The weekly debate programme is hosted by government-owned broadcaster TDM at its Macau Forum studio in Zape every Sunday.
The focus of the forum was on Macau’s measles situation.
Macau has recorded 26 measles cases so far this year, according to an SSM statement last night, which pointed out that no measles cases were recorded on three consecutive days, from Friday to yesterday. The latest case – the 26th one – was recorded on Thursday, an American football assistant coach, according to an SSM statement on Thursday, which said that the Ecuador-born 28-year-old male coach is a Macau resident who had visited the private Kiang Wu Hospital on March 6 where he had contact with one of the previous measles patients.
Among the 26 cases recorded so far this year, 10 have been classified as imported cases and 16 as cases related to imported measles, according to last night’s statement, which said that all of the 26 patients have meanwhile been discharged from hospital after recovery.
This year, Macau and Hong Kong have been hit by measles. Measles has been a hot-button issue in Macau since the Health Bureau hastily convened two press conferences on March 20 and 22 respectively to brief the media about Macau’s measles situation.
During the press conference on March 20, SSM officials noted that only three measles cases – all of them imported – were recorded last year, while the bureau had already confirmed eight cases at that time – of which five were classified as imported cases and three as cases related to imported measles. The officials acknowledged that this year was seeing a “significant” year-on-year increase in such cases.
During the March 20 press conference, SSM officials 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 had eradicated the disease, but various regions have registered measles outbreaks lately, such as the Chinese mainland, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Europe.
Speaking during the forum, Lam said that among the 16 cases related to imported measles, 14 patients were infected by a patient in Kiang Wu Hospital who was diagnosed with measles on March 8.
Lam noted that 23 days have passed since that patient was isolated on March 8, more than the longest incubation period of 21 days for measles, and that no new measles cases were recorded in the last several days. Lam said that consequently his bureau has come to the provisional conclusion that the direct measles transmission caused by that patient at Kiang Wu Hospital is now under control.
Sunday’s statement added that there was no indication that the 14 patients infected by that patient have transmitted the disease to others. However, Lam admitted it was necessary to wait and observe the epidemiological situation for another 10 days to confirm the situation.
Lam also said that there were 1,300 doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines left in Macau and that some 200 people per day went to get MMR vaccinations on Thursday and Friday.
Lam noted that the recent measles outbreaks in regions such as Southeast Asia, South Asia, Europe and the Americas have led to a worldwide shortage of the supply of MMR vaccines.
The bureau said in a statement last Wednesday that it had placed an emergency order of 15,000 doses of MMR vaccines and that the first batch of 5,400 was scheduled to arrive in Macau this week.
Lam reaffirmed yesterday that the first batch of 5,400 doses of MMR vaccines will arrive in Macau later this week, adding that the second batch of some 4,000 was slated to arrive around the middle of this month. He said that his bureau could not confirm when the remaining some 5,000 doses would arrive in the city.
Guest speakers during the forum pointed out that most domestic helpers in Macau – one of whose major tasks is to look after children – are from Southeast Asia, and they urged the government to consider making it compulsory for them to get MMR jabs.
Lam explained that those who have been infected with measles are usually immune to measles for life and that most people in Southeast Asia were infected with measles when they were children. Therefore, Lam said he believed that local employers and their family members are unlikely to be infected with measles by domestic helpers from Southeast Asia.(Macaunews)