'No evidence of community spread' after 5 foreign workers contract measles: MOH

'No evidence of community spread' after 5 foreign workers contract measles: MOH

Singapore's "herd immunity" - with at least 93 per cent of the population vaccinated against measles - means the country is safe from an outbreak of the disease, says an infectious diseases expert. Melissa Goh reports.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) is monitoring the situation after five foreign workers contracted measles.

Two Bangladeshi workers staying at Toh Guan Dormitory and three Bangladeshi workers staying at Sungei Tengah Lodge have contracted the disease, said MOH on Thursday (Jun 27). 

Four were taken to hospital, and three have since been discharged. One is in a stable condition as of Thursday, MOH confirmed. All five workers are no longer infectious.

"While there is currently no evidence of community spread from these cases, MOH continues to monitor the situation," said the ministry.

TOH GUAN CASES

The first case at Toh Guan Dormitory developed symptoms on May 31 and was admitted to hospital on Jun 3, where he tested positive for measles three days later, said MOH.

His roommate subsequently developed symptoms on Jun 16, and sought outpatient treatment. He was isolated in the dormitory's sick bay, and tested positive for measles on Jun 20.

The workers' close contacts have been vaccinated, with 11 co-workers of the first measles case already past the viral disease's 21-day incubation period, said MOH.

The other close contacts remain well, it added.

SUNGEI TENGAH LODGE CASES

Separately, three workers staying at Sungei Tengah Lodge tested positive for a "common measles genotype" between Jun 20 and Jun 21.

"Investigations showed that these cases resided in different blocks, have no known contact with one another and are from different companies working at different locations," said the ministry.

They are also not linked to the Toh Guan cases, it said, adding that investigations are ongoing.

As of the end of Wednesday, 92 close contacts - including roommates and co-workers - of the three workers have been identified. MOH said 91 were vaccinated, and the remaining person was due to be vaccinated Thursday.

"As an added precaution, MOH is extending vaccination to all residents who stayed on the same floor as each of the three cases, given that residents living on the same floor at Sungei Tengah Lodge share toilet and bathroom facilities," it added.

Measles is a highly transmissable viral disease and transmission to individuals with low or no immunity can occur.

The risk of widespread transmission and large outbreaks are low if the general population has high "herd immunity", which can be achieved by maintaining high vaccination coverage, said the ministry.

It is compulsory for all children living in Singapore to be vaccinated against measles, as children are at high risk of developing complications from the disease. 

"MOH would like to remind parents to ensure that their children’s measles vaccinations are up to date so as to protect themselves and prevent community outbreaks locally," it said.

READ: Eroding trust in vaccines leaves populations vulnerable, global study finds

The disease has seen a resurgence recently in other countries, with the United States seeing its worst outbreak since 1992.

Meanwhile, health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this month declared an epidemic of measles which may have killed 1,500 people.

Malaysia's health minister also confirmed last week that there is a measles outbreak among the Batek Orang Asli community in Kelantan, with at least 15 deaths reported.

Source: CNA/nc

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