Lockdown at German refugee centre following measles outbreak

Woman scratches red rash consistent with measles infection
Woman scratches red rash consistent with measles infection

Nearly 600 asylum seekers at a refugee centre in Berlin have been placed in lockdown following an outbreak of measles.

A strict three-week quarantine has been imposed at the site, in the Reinickendorf district of the German capital, following confirmation that two children were diagnosed with the highly contagious infection.

Officials have since rolled out an urgent vaccination campaign due to the large number of refugees who are not protected against measles.

Precautionary measures have been implemented to protect the residents from infection, including mandatory mask-wearing and regular medical check-ups.

Language mediators proficient in Turkish, Arabic and Farsi have been employed to explain the situation and the emergency measures being taken.

One of the most contagious of all infectious diseases, measles infects around nine in 10 unvaccinated people who come into close contact with a case.

Measles can affect anyone but is most common in children. It infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body. Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and a rash all over the body.

Vaccination lapse

An estimated 128,000 people died from measles in 2021 – mostly children under the age of five years.

Earlier this month, parents in London and its surrounding counties received warning letters that unvaccinated children could be forced to self-isolate for three weeks due to a rapid increase in measles cases.

It is believed that more than 100,000 children started school earlier this month without being fully vaccinated against measles.

Cases of the disease in England have reached a three-year high, with 141 confirmed cases recorded between January and July 2023, compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022, according to data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

More than half of the infections – 60 per cent – were detected in London, while all other regions have recorded at least one case.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, warned: “Measles can be a serious infection that can lead to complications especially in young children and those with weakened immune systems.

“Due to longstanding suboptimal vaccine uptake there is now a very real risk of seeing big outbreaks in London.”

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