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Measles cases triple globally: WHO

Measles cases have almost tripled year-on-year, according to new figures from the World Health Organization. Germany plans to make measles vaccinations compulsory for children from March.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that measles cases nearly tripled globally during the first seven months of 2019, compared with the same period last year.

So far this year 364,808 measles cases were reported, compared to 129,239 during the first seven months of 2018, according to the world health body.

The figures are "the highest [registered] since 2006," said Christian Lindmeier from the WHO, which has recently expressed concern over slipping vaccination rates.

The highest numbers of cases were reported in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine, the WHO said.

The Copenhagen-based body said nearly 90,000 cases were registered this year in the European region, which is higher than the 84,462 cases registered last year.

Read more: German government backs compulsory measles jab for schools, kindergartens

Watch video 02:51

Germany's vaccination problem

Germany's measles vaccine gap 

Tuesday's figures will likely further justify German government plans to make vaccination against the disease compulsory for children and employees of kindergartens and schools from March next year.

"No matter how you calculate, the fact remains: Too many children are needlessly put at risk in Germany because too few children have been inoculated against measles," Germany's health minister, Jens Spahn, said last week.

The minister was reacting to figures from German health insurer Barmer, which showed the gaps in immunization rates are larger than previously assumed. Barmer found rates below 90% among the children insured with it on starting school in 2017.

Under Germany's mandatory immunization plans, parents will be required to show evidence of vaccination before their children are accepted at a day care center or school.

Failure to comply could lead to steep fines of up to €2,500 ($2,800).

Read more: Measles: German minister proposes steep fines for anti-vaxxers

kw/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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