KIEV — Eight people have died of measles in Ukraine since the start of the year, already half as many as died in the whole of 2018, authorities said Wednesday.
The Health Ministry said two deaths from the extremely contagious viral disease have been recorded since Saturday. Last week alone, more than 3,100 people contracted measles, half of them children.
The World Health Organization’s data show that Ukraine logged 53,000 confirmed measles cases last year, accounting for more than half of all cases in Europe.
Skyrocketing measles rates in Ukraine are believed to be due to vaccine refusal, as well as a temporary breakdown in vaccine orders by the government a few years ago.
Efforts to battle the outbreak are also hampered by political infighting. Health Minister Ulana Suprun was stripped of her powers this month after a lawmaker filed a lawsuit against her in what was seen as a political vendetta. Suprun said Wednesday that the government has purchased measles vaccines for the military but that she is unable to sign the documents to send them to bases.