Australia ramps up measles warnings as cases jump

In this March 27, 2019 file photo, signs advertising free measles vaccines and information about measles are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department, in Pomona, New York. (AP)
Updated 08 April 2019
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Australia ramps up measles warnings as cases jump

  • Measles — an airborne infection causing fever, coughing

SYDNEY: Australia on Monday launched a major education campaign to encourage its residents, particularly those travelling overseas, to get vaccinated against measles as a sudden spike in cases amid a global resurgence causes alarm.
Measles — an airborne infection causing fever, coughing and rashes that can be deadly in rare cases — was declared officially eliminated from Australia by the World Health Organisation in 2014.
In developed nations including Australia however, the growing anti-vaccine movement has seen a reemergence of the disease.
The announcement by Health Minister Greg Hunt came as a spate of cases hit Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, with the latest infection alert on Sunday involving two people who holidayed in the Philippines.
Hunt said there were 83 measles cases so far this year, compared to 103 for all of last year and 81 for 2017.
"I am concerned about the recent increases in measles cases in Australia and want to make sure our community is well protected against this very serious disease," Hunt said in a statement.
He warned that due to changing vaccine schedules for Australians born between 1966 and 1994, some people may have received only one dose of vaccine, instead of two, making them more susceptible to infection.
Promotional materials including videos were being developed by the Australian Academy of Science to raise awareness about the need to be fully vaccinated, he added.
Some 93.5 percent of two-year-olds in Australia have received two doses of measles vaccine.


China’s Xi arrives in North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un

Updated 15 min 21 sec ago
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China’s Xi arrives in North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un

  • The summit comes as both Xi and Kim are locked in separate disputes with the United States — Xi over trade and Kim over his nuclear weapons
  • Chinese and North Korea media have said Xi would stay in Pyongyang for two days

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Thursday morning for a two-day state visit to North Korea, where he’s expected to talk with leader Kim Jong Un about the stalled negotiations with Washington over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported that Xi was accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, and several Communist Party officials. He is the first Chinese president to visit North Korea in 14 years.
The summit comes as both Xi and Kim are locked in separate disputes with the United States — Xi over trade and Kim over his nuclear weapons.
A Xinhua commentary said China could play a unique and constructive role in breaking the cycle of mistrust between North Korea and the US so they can work out a roadmap to achieve denuclearization.
The US is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons development before international sanctions are lifted. North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which a step toward its denuclearization would be matched by a concession from the US, notably a relaxation of economic sanctions.
China backs what it calls a “suspension for suspension” proposal. The Xinhua said both sides “need to have reasonable expectations and refrain from imposing unilateral and unrealistic demands.”
Experts say Xi will likely endorse North Korea’s calls for an incremental disarmament process.
Chinese and North Korea media have said Xi would stay in Pyongyang for two days. His meeting with Kim would their fifth summit since Kim entered nuclear diplomacy with the United States and South Korea early last year.
In an essay published in both countries’ official media before his trip, Xi praised North Korea for moving in the “right direction” by politically resolving issues on the peninsula. He did not mention Kim’s nuclear diplomacy with the US in the article, much of which focused on lauding the neighbors’ seven-decade relationship. Xi said his visit will “strengthen strategic communication and exchange” between the traditional, though sometimes strained, allies.
The nations fought together in the 1950-53 Korean War against the United States, South Korea and their allies, but there has been friction in recent years, especially over the North’s relentless push for nuclear weapons.