The United States has extended its pause on evacuation flights carrying Afghans into the country for at least another week after five arrivals were found to have measles, the Pentagon revealed Monday.
The flights into the United States “remain paused at the request of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] for at least seven additional days from today because of recently diagnosed cases of measles among Afghans who recently arrived in the United States,” press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyErdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab Top nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report MORE told reporters at the Pentagon.
“There have been five diagnosed cases of measles among new arrivals so far, and we are closely monitoring just in case more emerge,” he added.
The Defense Department last week announced one diagnosed case of measles at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and another three cases among new arrivals who flew into Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. One more case has been found at Fort Pickett in Virginia.
In response to the confirmed cases, the Biden administration halted the U.S.-bound flights from two main bases overseas in Germany and Qatar.
Those who have been diagnosed with measles “have been housed separately and are receiving medical care, and the CDC is doing contract tracing and will ask people to self-isolate as needed,” Kirby said.
He added that the Pentagon is “taking these cases seriously” and said all arriving Afghans “are currently required to be vaccinated for measles as a condition of their humanitarian parole, and critical immunizations, including [measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)], are being administered for Afghans” on military bases.
Officials are also working on ways to administer the MMR vaccine to Afghans before they depart for America, Kirby said.
Thousands of Afghans evacuated out of Afghanistan before the Aug. 31 U.S. withdrawal deadline remain at overseas bases, where officials are performing screening checks before they are brought to the U.S. and other countries.