Measles outbreak: Worst infection rate in 25 years put millions at risk

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More than one million people have died from coronavirus worldwide and the figure continues to rise as researchers around the globe desperately search for a vaccine. But millions of children are at risk from an outbreak of measles after a record-breaking infection number in 2019.

The highly contagious disease infected almost 870,000 people last year, marking the worst figures in almost a quarter of a century.

A report from the WHO warned this staggering figure was due to vaccination levels falling below the critical levels.

Now, millions of children are at risk this year as COVID-19 has imposed restrictions to immunisation programmes around the world.

The disease is considered to be more contagious than the likes of COVID-19, Ebola, tuberculosis or flu.

The WHO’s latest report found more than 207,000 people died of it last year alone recording the worst levels of the virus since 1996.

Last year, there was 869,770 cases of the measles with 207,500 deaths alone.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said in a statement: “These data send a clear message that we are failing to protect children from measles in every region of the world.”

With a surge of fatal cases means global measles deaths have risen by nearly 50 percent since 2016.

The report – which was co-led by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – claimed it was a collective failure to fully immunise children against the virus.

For 2020, the report warned due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinations have been crippled.

So far, more than 94 million people were at risk of missing vital measles vaccinations due to paused immunisation campaigns in 26 countries.

Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI global alliance, said: “COVID-19 has resulted in dangerous declines in immunisation coverage.”

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Mr Berkley added the measles report was “a warning that, with the COVID-19 pandemic occupying health systems across the world, we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball”.

Initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after contracting the virus, according to the NHS website.

Symptoms can including a runny nose, sneezing and coughing as well as red eyes which may be sensitive to light.

Someone infected could also suffer from a fever and small greyish-white spots can appear on the inside of the checks.

A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear usually on the head or upper neck before spreading across the rest of the body.

On the NHS website, it warned that due to the coronavirus pandemic, it “can be hard to know what to do if your child is unwell”.

“It is important to trust your instincts and get medical help if you need it,” they wrote.

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock hit back at calls for herd immunity in terms of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “It says that if enough people get COVID, we will reach herd immunity. This is not true.

“Many infectious diseases never reach herd immunity, like measles and malaria and AIDS and flu, and with increasing evidence of reinfection, we should have no confidence that we would ever reach herd immunity to COVID, even if everyone caught it.

“Herd immunity is a flawed goal without a vaccine, even if we could get to it, which we can’t.”

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