If you ask Macau’s Health Bureau, the city is relatively safe and disease-free. There has not been an outbreak of rubella, it will tell you, in an effort to not upset tourism. However, if you ask anyone else, you will get a completely different response. With a seriously high number of verified cases of rubella reported since the beginning of April—all at just two city casinos—there is cause to be concerned. Now, three more cases have been added to the list.
The Health Bureau confirmed the three latest cases last Friday, both of which were linked to employees at Galaxy Entertainment-owned StarWorld. That’s the same venue, along with City of Dreams Cotai, that was linked to 12 employees who were diagnosed with rubella in April. Later that same month, two more were found to be infected at the MGM Macau.
All three of the most recent victims are men and they were all born outside of Macau—two are from mainland China and one is from Vietnam. None could provide a detailed history of his vaccination against rubella and reportedly were diagnosed over the course of a five-day period from June 16 to June 20.
While there is no standard definition of when an epidemic should be called, Macau needs to consider weighing its options. In addition to the StarWorld, COD Cotai and MGM Macau venues, there have also been cases reportedly involving employees at Galaxy Macau, Golden Dragon and a casino in the New Orient Landmark Hotel. In total, 59 cases of rubella have been reported since the beginning of April and the majority of these, curiously, involved casino employees.
Despite the Health Bureau’s assertion that there’s no need for alarm, the numbers say something different. Not only has there been an increase in the number of rubella cases, but in the number of influenza cases, as well. In May 2018, only 35 cases of the flu were reported. However, this year, that number jumped to 3,024—a year-on-year increase of 8,540%. Even if someone were to justify that last year’s number wasn’t accurate because, perhaps, some individuals didn’t say anything when they became ill (even though local law mandates that it be reported), there’s no way to go from 35 to 3,024 without some legitimate cause.