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Three travellers confirmed to have measles after flight from Singapore to Australia

Two of the measles cases were infectious during the flight and immediately sought medical attention, said Victoria's Department of Health.

Three travellers confirmed to have measles after flight from Singapore to Australia

Qantas aircraft are seen at Melbourne Airport on Feb 22, 2021. (File photo: AFP/Saeed Khan)

SINGAPORE: Three new measles cases have been reported in a group of travellers who returned to Melbourne on a flight from Singapore, the Australian state of Victoria said on Friday (Nov 18).

The three cases are within one family, and travelled on Qantas flight QF36 on Nov 14. The flight was also an Emirates codeshare flight with the code EK5036, said Victoria's Department of Health.

Two of the cases were infectious during the flight and immediately sought medical attention, the department added.

The department identified the flight and Melbourne Airport as public exposure sites.

"Those who attended these sites are urged to seek medical care if they develop symptoms, and to wear a mask and call ahead to ensure they can be isolated from others," it said.

Those who were on board the flight, or were at the international arrivals area of Melbourne Airport on Nov 15 between 6.10am and 8.40am should monitor their health until Dec 3, the department advised.

The three cases had remained in the transit holding area and did not visit other areas of the airport in Singapore, according to Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH). 

Victoria's deputy chief health officer Deborah Friedman said that measles is a highly infectious viral disease that spreads quickly with close contact, especially in those who are not fully vaccinated.

"Young children and adults with weakened immune systems are the most at risk of serious illness," she said.

Five measles cases have now been reported in Victoria since January this year.

According to the Department of Health, the illness usually begins with common cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by fever and a rash.

The characteristic measles rash usually begins three to four days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body, it added.

"People can develop pneumonia and other serious complications from the measles, and often need to be hospitalised," said Associate Professor Friedman.

"Please seek medical attention right away if you notice any symptoms, especially if you have recently returned from overseas."

As of Nov 17, 2022, Singapore has had three confirmed cases of measles this year, of which one was an imported case.

The two local cases were isolated sporadic cases with no further spread, said Singapore's MOH.

The country’s measles incidence rate has remained stable at less than three per 100,000 population over the last 10 years (2012 to 2021).

Said MOH: "Measles vaccination is mandatory by law for all children residing in Singapore, which has allowed us to maintain high vaccination coverage at the population level.

"Due to the high vaccination coverage and immunity among local residents, the risk of spread of measles from travellers to the community is low." 

Source: CNA/kg(mi)


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