Concerned shoppers have urged the region’s public health unit to provide more information after it issued a ‘‘measles alert’’ for recent visitors to Dapto Mall.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Public Health Unit issued the alert on Wednesday night after a store worker at the mall was diagnosed with the viral disease late that afternoon.
The health unit would not name the store but said shoppers who visited the mall on Monday, or on Wednesday or Thursday last week, may be at risk – in particular young children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.
Illawarra Mercury readers reacted angrily to an article about the health warning in Friday’s paper, calling on the health unit to name the store.
On the Mercury’s Facebook page, Michelle stated: ‘‘Not revealing the store the employee works at is irresponsible. I’m (six) months pregnant and have visited... the mall on the days specified. Why on earth would you want to place (what may be unnecessary) stress on the community and myself and baby in fear of what could potentially be a harmful measles attack, without providing more details?!’’
Another shopper, who registered as ‘‘guest’’ on the paper’s website said: ‘‘The shop needs to be identified. Wednesday last week was my first day of chemo, I started feeling down on Friday.’’
However ‘‘tash’’ commented: ‘‘Good on the worker for getting checked out which led to diagnosis and health dept getting the word out quickly.’’
And Victoria stated: ‘‘Why should they reveal the store? So the store can get backlash? Not the store’s fault.’’
A spokesperson for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District said the public health unit needed to ‘‘strike a balance between appropriately alerting the public of the risk and maintaining the privacy of the patient involved’’.
‘‘The release of information which may ultimately lead to the identification of the individual involved is inappropriate and against the Privacy Act,’’ the spokesperson said. ‘‘If people are unsure of their immunity, they need to contact their GP. It should be noted that this relates to one confirmed case and naming the store involved is not useful as the individual may have moved around other parts of the centre on the days in question.’’
GPs in the area have been notified.