Pentagon officials are trying to reassure residents at two Army bases that they’re dealing strongly with a pair of measles outbreaks tied to newly arrived Afghan refugees. It was the latest snag in the Biden administration’s troubled effort to extricate the U.S. from America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and provide for those who helped the American combat mission.
On Monday, Department of Defense officials confirmed that at least one Afghan evacuee each at Fort Pickett in Virginia and Fort McCoy, Wisc., has been diagnosed with measles. They are being quarantined and undergoing medical treatment, officials said.
“We want the people who work on these bases and the families who live there to know how seriously we’re taking it,” chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “We are doing contact tracing right now so we can get a better sense of the scope of the possible infection.”
Because of the outbreak, the U.S. has halted all inbound flights of Afghan refugees from military airbases in Germany and Qatar for at least seven days. In addition to the two patients at Fort McCoy and Fort Pickett, three other measles cases were confirmed among a group of Afghans at Northern Virginia’s Dulles International Airport, Mr. Kirby said Monday.
Thousands of Afghans are on standby in at the military base in Ramstein, Germany following the measles outbreak. According to the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, dozens have been denied entry into the U.K. because they didn’t meet the requirements to fly to the British Isles.
All arriving Afghans are required to be immunized for measles as a condition of their entry into the United States, officials said.
“We’ll soon be vaccinating Afghans for [measles, mumps, and rubella] while they’re overseas,” Mr. Kirby said.