U.S.-bound Afghan evacuation flights halted due to measles cases

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The United States has suspended inbound evacuation flights from carrying Afghan refugees since September 10, 2021 over the discovery of a number of measles cases among new arrivals in the U.S. 

The flights will remain “paused for at least seven additional days (from September 13, 2021)”, deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told US reporters.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the temporary pause on flights was requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The measles cases were detected among the 9,000 Afghan refugees who are currently at Fort McCoy Army base in Wisconsin and also among evacuees who landed at Dulles International Airport (IAD). 

Those diagnosed with measles are “being housed separately in accordance with public health guidelines and the CDC has begun full contact tracing,” Psaki said. 

As the CDC has listed Afghanistan among the top countries with global measles outbreak, Afghan evacuees arriving in the United States are required to be vaccinated for measles. 

The administration is currently exploring ways to vaccinate people while they are still at U.S. military bases overseas, Psaki said. 

The CDC considers measles to be a highly contagious disease. Until the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, half a million new cases of measles were reported to the CDC yearly. In the year 2000, the CDC declared that there are no more local measles transmission in the United States. 

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