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Filipino domestic workers given free blood test for measles

17 May 2019

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Makeshift blood testing station set up in Immigration Tower on May 16-17 for Filipino domestic workers

By The SUN

A blood test station was set up for the past two days at the Immigration Tower on Gloucester Road in Wanchai, to offer Filipino domestic workers a free check on their susceptibility to measles.  

According to the Centre for Health Protection up to 200 serology or blood-testing tests were available for the two days that the blood-taking station was in place inside the building, on May 16 and 17.

The test is meant to find out if a person has measles antibody, and is thus not likely to catch the infectious disease that has afflicted a record number of people in Hong Kong earlier this year.
A male medic said on May 17 that it was the first measles blood station that the CHP had put up, but declined to give estimates of the number of Filipino helpers who had availed of the free test.

But in a press release the day before, the CHP said 57 blood samples had been collected from participants, and that they would be informed of the results individually.


Earlier this month, the CHP offered free measles vaccination at Chek Lap Kok airport, also to Filipino domestic workers. The three-day testing was conducted on Apr 30, May 2 and 7, in the non-restricted area of the airport.

The pilot study was limited to 200 vaccinations.

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Measles infection has been unusually high among airport workers

However, the free measles vaccinations continue to be given daily to airport workers as the number of infections among them has been unusually high. Of the more than 50 cases reported this year, about half involved airport workers, including two who had received three doses of the measles vaccine previously.

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The vaccination specifically targets airport staff born in or after 1967 and have not received two doses of measles vaccination, have not been previously infected with measles, or have laboratory evidence of testing not positive against measles antibody.

Also, since March this year, the CHP has been sending letters to employment agencies in Hong Kong, enlisting their support for the vaccination of Filipino domestic workers against measles.
The center cited the recent increase in measles cases in some Southeast Asian countries, especially the Philippines, and urged the agencies to help promote measles vaccination among foreign helpers to protect them and the local community against the disease.

It said measles remained a common disease in many parts of the world. In the Philippines, 18,407 measles cases were recorded in 2018, a nearly 8-fold increase from 2,428 cases in 2017.

The CHP urged the agencies to advise helpers to get the vaccine before returning to Hong Kong from a vacation, and require new hires to get the two dosage of anti-measles shots before coming to the city.
However, many of the confirmed cases of measles infection in Hong Kong involve local people who did not travel abroad during the incubation period, and had not reported being in contact with an infected person.

This was the case in the latest two cases reported on May 14. The first patient is a 27-year-old woman with good past health who said she had measles vaccination and did not travel outside Hong Kong during the incubation and communicable period.

The second case involves a 31-year-old man in good health who also had measles vaccination, and had not traveled abroad during the incubation period.

Measles is spread airborne by droplet or direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons. The symptoms include tiredness, fever, cough, red eyes, white spots inside the mouth and red blotchy skin rash. In severe cases, the disease can spread to the lung, gut and brain, leading to serious consequences or even death.


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