Flights of Afghan refugees to the US were paused Friday after four cases of measles were discovered among Afghans who had recently arrived in the country.
The White House said the halt was recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the four measles cases were diagnosed.
“Operation Allies Welcome flights into the United States have been temporarily paused at the request of the CDC and out of an abundance of caution because of four diagnosed cases of measles among Afghans who recently arrived in the United States,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
She did not say where the cases were located. Flights of Afghans have been coming to the United States from military bases in Germany and Qatar. Many are operated by commercial carriers.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that can lead to serious health complications. It was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. However, travelers have continued to bring the virus to the United States, leading to local spread and outbreaks among people who aren’t vaccinated.
Psaki said the individuals found to have measles were being quarantined in accordance with public health guidance and that contact tracing had begun. She said arriving Afghans were required to be vaccinated for measles as a condition for their entry into the United States.
The vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella is currently being administered to Afghans at military installations in the United States, Psaki said. She added the administration is exploring measures to vaccinate people at overseas locations.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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