GENEVA — The U.N. health agency is warning that more than 117 million children in more than three dozen countries could miss out on measles vaccines as countries suspend immunizations and other services to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The World Health Organization says 24 countries have already postponed measles vaccination campaigns to avert further spread of Covid-19 disease, and another 13 are expected to do so by the end of the year.
"If the difficult choice to pause vaccination is made due to the spread of Covid-19, we urge leaders to intensify efforts to track unvaccinated children, so that the most vulnerable populations can be provided with measles vaccines as soon as it becomes possible to do so," WHO said in a statement Tuesday.
WHO and partners say they support a "pause of mass campaigns" in their measles and rubella initiative to protect communities and health workers, but "this should not mean that children permanently miss out.”
86 Virus Infections at a Single Russian Elderly Home
MOSCOW — Russian officials say that scores of patients at a nursing home in western Russia have been infected with the new coronavirus.
The city of Vyazma 130 miles west of Moscow has been shut after contagion was found over the weekend in the local home for the elderly. Officials said one of the medics there has tested positive for Covid-19 and 86 patients have been infected.
Russia has registered 21,102 coronavirus cases and 170 deaths as of Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered most Russians to stay off work until the end of April as part of a partial economic shutdown to stymie the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, Putin ordered officials to prepare for "any possible scenarios, including the most difficult and extraordinary." He warned regional governors that they would face charges of criminal negligence if they fail to mobilize all available resources to combat the outbreak.
Austria and Poland Cautiously Reopen
BERLIN — Austria is beginning to relax its strict coronavirus lockdown measures by allowing small retailers and do-it-yourself and gardening supply stores to reopen Tuesday.
All customers will be required to wear mouth and nose covers that help reduce the risk of infection for others, and keep a distance of at least 1 meter from each other. There will also be a limit on the number of people allowed into stores.
Austria closed almost all stores apart from supermarkets in mid-March in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and has so far managed to keep the number of infections and deaths relatively low compared to other countries.
Austrian authorities have said they plan to let all stores reopen on May 2, followed by restaurants in mid-May, provided the pandemic remains under control.
Poland too will start to gradually lift restrictions imposed on businesses and daily life in the fight against coronavirus spread.
Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said Monday that starting the "defreeze of the economy" should be "good news, if we look at the costs of the isolation" that was initiated March 13.
Government spokesman Piotr Mueller said the details will be decided later this week as data of new infections comes in and can be assessed. Poland’s reopening is slated to begin Sunday. Mueller said the number of clients allowed into shops is expected to be raised and some restrictions on open air activity will be lifted, like a ban on entering woods, parks and other public spaces.
Szumowski said he does not expect the virus to vanish under hot summer weather and that fight with the epidemic in Poland will take a year.
The nation of 38 million has reported almost 7,050 cases of infection, including 251 deaths.