“The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases is a warning sign,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement. “As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats. Health systems could be severely strained not only by COVID-19 but by other diseases.”

Africa is seeing a surge of outbreaks of preventable diseases as a result of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, AP reports.

The continent recorded a 400% increase in measles, to more than 17,000 cases between January and March, compared to the same period last year, Dr. Benido Impouma, a WHO expert in Africa, told a press briefing.

Two years of disruptions by the coronavirus pandemic have had “major effects on the provision of routine health services, with immunization being seriously affected” in many countries, he said.

Twenty-four countries confirmed outbreaks of polio last year, four times more than in 2020. Last year 13 countries reported new outbreaks of yellow fever, rising from nine in 2020 and three in 2019, according to WHO figures.

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