Security has been stepped up at the Australian Open tennis tournament, with Australian state Premier Daniel Andrews confirming the players would not be allowed to attend the event without being vaccinated against the measles.
Ambassadors at the tennis tournament have been asked to watch for people exhibiting symptoms of the disease and advised them to contact the authorities or doctors.
An outbreak of measles is currently the biggest the country has seen in years.
“Everyone at the Australian Open should be aware of the precautions needed to stay safe,” Andrews said.
“With the outbreak of the measles at the Australian Open, the NSW Government have confirmed in a letter from its acting Health Minister to the Australian Open that there will be no unvaccinated players or officials,” he added.
The British Nationality Immunisation Register for NSW said that 642 cases had been confirmed with another 506 under investigation. Most of the suspected cases have been in Victoria, followed by NSW and Queensland.
Children attending school in both New South Wales and Victoria are required to be immunized.
The outbreak at the Australian Open is the largest in Australia in more than a decade, according to Fairfax Media.
Unlike traditional “polio,” which comes with a high fever and red, swollen eyes, the current strain of measles attacks the respiratory system and causes lesions in the throat.
Dr. Gary Bruce, director of communicable diseases at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, said an outbreak of measles was initially reported on the streets of the city.
The measles virus, the most contagious of all infections, was first detected in Australia in 1948, according to the Australian Centres for Disease Control.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that there were 48 cases of measles in Sydney, with another eight in Canberra, a capital city.
“We have had at least 400 cases [of measles] in Australia in the last couple of months, which is frightening. This is very significant,” Bruce said.
By comparison, there was only one measles case reported in Australia in 2011, and none in Australia in 2013, 2014 or 2015.
Philip Laird, from Vaccination Action Campaign said that the figures came after repeated warnings about measles that were not heeded.
“The rise of measles is due to a failure of vaccination to control the disease. There have been many warnings since 1963 that outbreaks like this would occur. Both health authorities and the health community have blamed the decline in immunisation on people refusing to get immunized. This is not true,” he said.
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