WHO confirms 10 polio cases in Syria
The United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 10 cases of polio in Syria, the country's first outbreak in 14 years. According to the WHO, the suspected outbreak has been focused in the eastern Deir al-Zour province. There are still 12 other possible cases under investigation. WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer said the majority of the victims have been children under the age of two. The United Nations estimates that 500,000 children have remained unvaccinated since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. With the large population movements caused by fighting, there is concern the highly communicable disease could spread across the region. Syria's Health Ministry has begun an immunization drive, and immunization campaigns have begun in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said inspectors have visited 21 of the 23 sites initially listed by the Syrian government. However, they are concerned they will not be able to reach the final two sites due to security concerns. The next stage of the U.S. and Russian plan is for the destruction of weapons at the facilities, which could nonetheless move ahead at the sites in which inspectors have already gained access.