White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the suspension came on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control.
The Biden administration has temporarily halted flights of Afghan refugees to the United States after four cases of measles were discovered among new arrivals.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the flight suspension came on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “out of an abundance of caution.”
“These individuals are being quarantined in accordance with public health guidelines and the CDC has begun tracing full contacts,” Psaki told reporters.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal, especially in children. Its spread has slowed dramatically in recent decades due to global mass vaccination.
Psaki said all Afghans arriving in the United States must have “critical vaccinations”.
“We are also exploring measures to vaccinate people while they are still abroad,” she said.
It is not clear how long the flight suspension will last. Thousands of Afghans in military bases in Germany, Qatar, Spain and other places are awaiting transfer to the US, where they will be vetted before being cleared for resettlement.
US officials have said the country plans to take 50,000 Afghans of more than 100,000 evacuated from Afghanistan last month amid the Taliban takeover.
Washington Says It Continues Efforts To Help US Citizens And Vulnerable Afghans Leave Afghanistan After US Military withdrawal that ended on August 31.
A second Qatar Airways flight departed on Friday after a plane left Afghanistan the day before with 100 passengers, including foreigners.
The Biden administration said Friday’s flight had 19 US citizens on board.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said two additional U.S. citizens and 11 legal permanent residents (LPRs) left Afghanistan via land routes on Friday.
“We continue to work intensively within the US government to facilitate the safe passage of these individuals and other US citizens, LPRs and Afghans who have worked for us and who wish to leave Afghanistan,” Horne said in a statement.
“Because there is an ongoing terrorist threat to operations of this nature, we will not share details of these efforts until the people are safely out of the country.”
On Thursday, Horne confirmed coordination with the Taliban to facilitate the departure of the first flight. “They have shown flexibility and have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them. This is a positive first step,” she said of the group.
Earlier this week, State Secretary Antony Blinken said called the Taliban to fulfill its promise to “allow foreigners, visa holders and Afghans to travel outside the country if they wish”.