Vaccinations slash measles rates, WHO says

The global number of measles deaths dropped by 71 percent between 2000 and 2011 largely thanks to a boost in vaccination efforts, the Geneva-based World Health Organisation says.

The number of mortalities from measles over that period fell from 542,000 to 158,000, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The number of new cases fell by 58 percent to 355,000 in 2011.

The UN health agency recommends that all children receive two doses of measles vaccine to be protected from the highly contagious disease.

But despite high-profile vaccination campaigns, the vaccine has yet to reach all those in need.

The WHO estimates that 20 million children worldwide failed to receive first dose of the vaccine in 2011.

More than half live in India (6.7 million children), Nigeria (1.7 million), Ethiopia (one million), and Pakistan (900,000) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (800,000).

In 2011, these five countries experienced large outbreaks of measles, while thousands of cases were also recorded in other countries including France, Italy and Spain.
Most of these countries have committed to eradicating measles by 2015 or 2020.

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1.4 million parcels a day: record Christmas for Swiss Post

Swiss Post, Switzerland’s postal service, sorted and delivered a record 1.4 million parcels every day in the week before Christmas.

1.4 million parcels a day: record Christmas for Swiss Post

This figure represents an increase on last year’s 1.3 million parcels per day.

Experts say this is due to the growing popularity of online shopping.

With 8.4 million people living in Switzerland, this means that 1 in 6 citizens had a parcel delivered during the last week before Christmas. 

But despite the busiest time coming in the week before Christmas, Swiss Post also sorted through 1 million packages a day in the weeks beforehand.

Since Black Friday, on November 23, Swiss Post says it has delivered some 25 million parcels and more than 400 million letters.

To compensate for the sudden spike, all available staff in three of the biggest Swiss Post sorting centres (Frauenfeld in Thurgau, Härkigen in Solothurn and Daillens in Vaud) have been working extra shifts on Saturdays for the last five weeks.

Swiss Post has expanded its sorting system in the past few years to further help it cope with such high numbers of parcels. 

It is also currently working on the construction of three new regional sorting centres in Ticino, Valais and Graubünden.