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Health Bureau announces ‘small outbreak’ of rubella

The Health Bureau (SSM) said Wednesday that a small outbreak of rubella has occurred in Macau as 14 German measles (as the disease is also known) cases have been recorded since the beginning of this month.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

The Health Bureau (SSM) said Wednesday that a small outbreak of rubella has occurred in Macau as 14 German measles (as the disease is also known) cases have been recorded since the beginning of this month.

The bureau hastily convened a press conference at the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre to brief the media about the city’s rubella situation.

The press conference was chaired by SSM Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Director Lam Chong.

According to Lam, the 14 patients aged between 21 and 55 comprise 11 local residents and three non-resident workers. Nine of the 14 patients left Macau during the incubation period. None of the 14 needed to be hospitalised.

Among the 14 patients, three work at the City of Dreams casino-hotel resort in Cotai – two local residents and a non-resident worker from Vietnam, while four work at StarWorld Hotel in Nape – three local residents and a non-resident worker from the Philippines. The third non-resident worker is a mainlander, according to Lam.

Lam noted that only one rubella case was recorded last year, while his bureau has already confirmed 15 cases since the beginning of this year, adding that the situation shows that a small outbreak of rubella has occurred in Macau.

Lam noted that Macau introduced vaccination against rubella in the 1990s, adding that rubella cases had been very rare since the 2000s and only zero to three rubella cases were recorded every year in recent years. Lam noted that the findings of previous surveys showed that 75 percent of local residents are immune to German measles. Lam reassured the public that while more rubella cases are expected to be recorded in the near future, there won’t be a large-scale outbreak. Lam was quick to add that a number of small outbreaks may occur in the city and that the number of rubella cases may exceed the number of measles cases recorded so far this year.

Macau has recorded 33 measles (also known as rubeola or English measles) cases so far this year, according to an SSM statement earlier this week.

Lam noted that rubella and measles have similar symptoms but rubella symptoms are milder than measles symptoms so that rubella is less contagious than measles. Lam said that while the infection of rubella does not have a large impact on ordinary people, it has a serious impact on pregnant women, as pregnant women infected with rubella may suffer miscarriage or give birth to children with birth defects such as glaucoma, cataract and congenital heart defect.

Lam urged residents to pay close attention, particularly pregnant women, to the prevention of German measles. He urged pregnant women to avoid visiting regions where rubella is prevalent such as Japan.

Lam reassured that as vaccination against German measles has been conducted in Macau for a long time, local pregnant women have generally been vaccinated against rubella. But he urged pregnant women or those who plan to be pregnant to check whether they have the rubella antibody.(Macaunews)

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

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