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Coronavirus forcing parents to skip kids’ vaccinations: UNICEF

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The novel coronavirus pandemic that has forced billions of people across the globe to stay home is making parents skip routine immunizations for their kids, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF warned Thursday.

The phenomenon is being aggravated by overburdened health services where medical workers are being diverted from giving vaccines to focus on the COVID-19 response.

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Some governments might even have to postpone mass immunization campaigns as a way of slowing the disease’s spread, UNICEF said.

The agency’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore said the requirement for people to stay home and observe social distancing was leading parents to “make the difficult decision to defer routine immunization”.

Of particular concern are impoverished and war-torn countries battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan.

“At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Fore said in a statement.

“Medical goods are in short supply and supply chains are under historic strain due to transport disruptions. Flight cancellations and trade restrictions by countries have severely constrained access to essential medicines, including vaccines.”

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Fore added that in the near future, governments may need to postpone preventive mass vaccination campaigns — where people group together to receive inoculations — to ensure these do not contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

UNICEF recommended governments begin rigorous planning now to boost immunisation campaigns for as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

Afghanistan is one of only three countries, along with Pakistan and Nigeria, where polio remains endemic.

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Even before the coronavirus crisis, Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan were struggling to vaccinate kids as local populations viewed inoculation teams with suspicion.

Opposition grew after the CIA organized a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

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The Taliban last week pledged to cooperate with healthcare workers in combating the coronavirus.


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Jim Cramer: Coronavirus pandemic triggered ‘one of the greatest wealth transfers in history’

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CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday that that coronavirus pandemic has triggered "one of the greatest wealth transfers in history."

The remark from the network's "Mad Money" host came amid "ominous" economic data but a rebounding stock market.

"How can the market rebound without the economy? Because the market doesn't represent the economy; it represents the future of big business," said Cramer. "The bigger the business, the more it moves the major averages."

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Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum worldwide with fresh weekend of protests

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From Sydney to London, Paris to Washington, D.C., protesters have launched a global weekend of action to support Black Lives Matter, in many cases defying bans on public gatherings.

Taking a knee, chanting and ignoring social-distancing measures, outraged protesters kicked off a weekend of global rallies Saturday against racism and police brutality.

The death during the arrest of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in the US state of Minnesota, has brought tens of thousands out onto the streets during a pandemic that is ebbing in Asia and Europe, but spreading in other parts of the world.

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Philly police threaten to call in sick during protests after officer charged with assault: report

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Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna has been charged with assault after a video circulated of him beating Evan Gorski, a Temple University student, during a protest. But according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, his fellow officers on the force are outraged — and may stage a "sickout" in protest.

"John McNesby, head of the city’s police union, came to Bologna’s defense, calling him one of the city’s 'most decorated and respected police leaders' who had to make a split-second call in a chaotic situation," reported William Bender and Jeremy Roebuck. "By Friday evening, talk was circulating about a 'blue flu,' or organized move by officers to call in sick in solidarity with Bologna, as another round of demonstrations, with crowds anticipated in the thousands, was set to take place Saturday in central Philadelphia."

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