Measles on the rise, with 17 cases last week, says Health Ministry

A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Measles, which affects the respiratory system and often results in skin rash, transmits swiftly to people who are not vaccinated.
A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Measles, which affects the respiratory system and often results in skin rash, transmits swiftly to people who are not vaccinated.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A total of 17 measles cases at two locations were confirmed in the past week alone, as the number of people stricken with the highly contagious disease continues to rise in recent weeks.

Of these, 14 were found at the MINDSville @ Napiri, a residential home for persons with intellectual disability, at 7 Lorong Napiri in Hougang, said the Health Ministry on Tuesday (July 23).

The remaining three are at foreign worker dormitory S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, at 2 Seletar North Link, the ministry's statement added.

While there is no evidence the disease has spread into the community, the ministry has taken steps to prevent it. These include vaccinating close contacts who have no proof of vaccination or immunity, and monitoring closely the health of close contacts.

The ministry added that all suspected measles cases will be isolated.

Measles, which affects the respiratory system and often results in skin rash, transmits swiftly to people who are not vaccinated.

It has an infectious period of as early as four days before the onset of rash to four days after. Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid getting infected.

As of Monday, the ministry has been notified of 116 cases so far this year.

Most, or 88 cases, were local and 28 were imported from such countries as Bangladesh, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Dubai emirate in United Arab Emirates.

No deaths were reported in 2019.

The ministry was first notified of a suspected measles case at MINDSville @ Napiri home on July 7, and subsequently a cluster of the infection among residents and staff on July 19.

As of Monday, 12 residents and two staff were confirmed with the disease.

Six of the residents were hospitalised, one of whom has been discharged and is no longer infectious.

The remaining five are in stable condition.

The ministry has recommended that the home vaccinate close contacts, and improve measures to prevent and control the infection.

Its staff and residents were also reminded to maintain a high standard of personal hygiene and the staff were asked to wear gloves and protective equipment when tending to symptomatic residents, the ministry added.

Also, residents and staff who did not have proof of immunity to measles were given the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccination on Monday, as an added precaution owing to the shared facilities at the home.

Residents will also be screened for symptoms before they leave the home for essential medical appointments and other activities.

NO LINKS AMONG THREE CASES AT DORMITORY

The ministry was told of the first case at the foreign worker dormitory on July 15. It involved an Indian worker. Subsequently, it was told on July 16 and July 19 of two cases, involving a Bangladeshi and another Indian worker respectively.

All three have since been discharged from hospital and are no longer infectious.

Investigations are ongoing to find the source of the infection as the trio reported no contact with sick people.

The Bangladeshi worker had arrived from Bangladesh on June 27, while the other two had no recent travel history, although the vaccination history of all three is unclear.

They each stay at different blocks in the dormitory and are from different companies, working at different sites. No links have been identified among them.

The ministry is working with the companies to carry out screening and vaccination of all close contacts of the three cases.

As of Monday, 50 close contacts , including roommates and co-workers, have been vaccinated.

The ministry is also working with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to vaccinate all residents with no proof of vaccination or immunity and are staying on the same floor as the three foreign workers.

 
 
 
 

All contacts are expected to be vaccinated by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, the vaccination of all close contacts of the eight cases identified in June at Toh Guan Dormitory and Sungei Tengah Lodge has been completed, the ministry said.

No further cases have been reported at either dormitory, it added.

VACCINATION COMPULSORY FOR CHILDREN

All children living in Singapore are required by law to get a measles vaccination as they face a high risk of developing complications.

Adults are also recommended to be vaccinated if they have not done so previously or lack evidence of immunity.

The MMR vaccination is available at polyclinics, private general practitioner and private paediatric clinics.

It is free at polyclinics for Singaporean children.

Medisave can be used at the private clinics for both adults and children.