22 Feb 2023

Dozens in NZ possibly exposed to measles on recent flight into Sydney

4:20 pm on 22 February 2023
Nurse holding MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine vial in gloved hand with syringe. (Photo by SHERRY YATES YOUNG/SCIENCE PHOTO / SYO / Science Photo Library via AFP)

Photo: AFP / Science Photo Library

Passengers from a flight between Jakarta and Sydney may have been exposed to measles, and are being asked to call Healthline urgently.

Te Whatu Ora said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon anyone who travelled on the Jakarta to Sydney flight QFA42/QF42, which arrived in Sydney at 6:17am on 15 February, and who then flew on to New Zealand, was "strongly urged" to call Healthline on 0800 611 116.

"People on this flight may have been exposed to a confirmed measles case that is currently in Australia."

National Public Health Service clinical lead Dr William Rainger said so far six people on the flight had been contacted, but there were another who 29 public health staff were still trying to reach.

"Measles is a serious illness, with the 2019 outbreak resulting in more than 2000 cases and over 700 hospitalisations. Hence it is vital that people who were on this flight, and who have not yet been contacted by Public Health staff, contact Healthline urgently and remain at home or at their accommodation.

"The focus is now on identifying any other passengers from this flight who may have travelled onwards to New Zealand."

The immunity status of those on the flight and "appropriate public health actions," would be the next step, which could include vaccination.

Measles is highly infectious, with signs and symptoms typically showing up from seven to 18 days after exposure, including fever, cough, runny nose, sore and watery 'pink' eyes, followed by a blotchy rash.

Anyone already with two doses of the MMR vaccine, or that has had measles before or were born before 1969 were considered already immune. Anyone unsure should check with their doctor.

"The free MMR vaccination is the best protection against measles, and the most important thing people can do to protect themselves is to ensure that they and their tamariki are immunised," said Rainger.

"MMR is given as two doses - if you're not sure that you've had two doses, play it safe and get vaccinated. There are no safety concerns with having an extra dose."

There is a free 24/7 Disability Helpline for measles information or general enquiries: 0800 11 12 13 or via the NZ Relay Service, or by texting 8988.

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