WHO: 82,600 measles cases in Europe, 335 in Poland

In 2018, there was a total of 335 cases of measles in Poland, the World Health Organisation reported and raised an alarm for Europe where the disease broke record numbers of afflicted persons.

Health Minister: Measles outbreak ‘a red alert’

During a Sunday press conference, Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski commented on the recent measles outbreak in the Warsaw suburbs.

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The largest number of cases was noted in Ukraine where as many as 53,200 fell ill in 2018. Second came Serbia (5,000 cases), third France (2,900 cases), Russia (2,300 cases) and Greece (2,200).

According to the head of the WHO European office in Copenhagen Zsuzsanna Jakab, in comparison to 2017, the number of measles cases rose three times. In 2018, 72 people died of measles, whereas in 2017 only 42.

The WHO reported that the main cause of a spike in measles cases in Ukraine was caused by a drop in the number of vaccinations against the disease that the country experienced in 2016 as a consequence of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. In 2016, only 31 percent of Ukrainian children were vaccinated.

In early November 2018, an outbreak of measles was reported in Warsaw suburbs. More than fifteen cases were recorded near the capital of Poland. According to authorities, the majority of the confirmed cases concerned foreigners, many of whom were children of Ukrainian origin.

At that time, the Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski called for vaccinating. “Let’s vaccinate our children as the country’s security depends on it”, Mr Szumowski said in November 2018.

The Health Minister said, also in late 2018, that the ministry was working over regulations forbidding unvaccinated foreigners from third countries from entering Poland. Moreover, the ministry also announced that it has been working over regulations that could ban entrance to Poland for unvaccinated citizens of the EU.

“However, this is a delicate matter, because freedom of people’s movement is in force in the EU,” the Mr Szumowski told the “Rzeczpospolita” daily.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases with symptoms including a high fever, heavy cough, rashes, conjunctivitis, extreme sensitivity to light and inflammation.