White House says Afghan evacuee flights 'remain paused' after measles cases detected among recent arrivals

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The White House on Monday said flights carrying Afghan refugees to the United States “remain paused” for at least an additional seven days at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after measles cases were detected among recent arrivals. 

The White House, on Friday, first announced that the U.S. temporarily suspended those flights. 

Principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday told reporters that “those flights are still being halted, just out of an abundance of caution.” 

Jean-Pierre said, “‘Operation Allies Welcome’ flights into the United States remain paused at the request of the CDC for at least seven additional days, again, out of an abundance of caution, because of recent diagnosed cases of measles among Afghans who recently arrived in the U.S.” 

Jean-Pierre said individuals who have been diagnosed with measles “were being housed separately in accordance with public health guidelines.” 

“And the CDC has begun full contact tracing,” she said. 

“All those who had been in contact with the infected person at base have been isolated, and post-exposure prophylaxis and inoculations are in process,” the notice said.

The CDC describes measles as a “highly contagious” virus that can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and by people breathing contaminated air or touching infected surfaces and then their faces. 

It says the virus is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also be infected, and that the virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace even after an infected person leaves the area.

According to the CDC, Afghanistan has the seventh-highest number of measles cases in the world.

On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. is also exploring efforts to vaccinate evacuees while they are still overseas.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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