ISLAMABAD: The number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan this year has surged to the highest level in 14 years after several new incidences of the disease were reported, health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
“We have recorded 15 fresh cases of polio in last two days, the number of polio cases has reached 202 for this year,” a senior official at the Pakistan National Institute of Health in Islamabad told AFP, adding that the annual tally had surpassed the previous record of 199 cases in 2000.
A WHO official in Islamabad confirmed the number of polio cases recorded.
Saira Afzal Tarar, Pakistan deputy minister for health, said the fresh cases came from the areas where “polio teams received threats”.
“All these cases were recorded in the areas where we have security problems,” Tarar told a private TV channel.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic but efforts to stamp it out have been badly hit in recent years by attacks on immunisation teams.
Some 59 people including health workers and police providing security have been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams since December 2012.
Officials said 136 cases reported were from the troubled northwestern tribal areas that border Afghanistan and are home to Taliban and al Qaeda militants.
The militants allege polio vaccination is a cover for espionage or Western-conspiracy to sterilise Muslims.