6 polio cases emerge on second day of new year

Updated January 02, 2020

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Since last year, 123 cases have been reported, compared to 12 in 2018 and eight in 2017. — Rafiullah Mandokhail/File
Since last year, 123 cases have been reported, compared to 12 in 2018 and eight in 2017. — Rafiullah Mandokhail/File

Five new cases of polio were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Sindh on Thursday, taking the national total to 123 since last January.

According to the National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio, of the cases to have surfaced in KP, two are from Tank, one is from Bannu, one is from Dera Ismail Khan and one from Mohmand.

In Tank, the two affected children were a 30-month-old girl and a five-month-old boy. In D.I. Khan, a 24-month-old girl, in Bannu, a 26-month-old boy and in Mohmand, a six-month-old boy have tested positive for the virus.

In Sindh, the new polio case was reported from Dadu.

Of the 123 cases to have been reported since last year, 88 are from KP, 20 from Sindh, nine from Balochistan, and six from Punjab.

It is worth mentioning that in 2018, only 12 cases were reported while in 2017, eight cases had surfaced.

EOC Coordinator Dr Rana Safdar while talking to Dawn earlier had said that the polio virus had been rampant throughout 2019 due to a number of factors.

“We have just started our battle afresh with the successful December nationwide campaign, the first since January as the April attempt was effected by the unfortunate Peshawar incident in which some persons staged a drama that children of a school were affected with polio vaccine,” he said.

“Two follow-up national campaigns are planned in February and April 2020 that, along with efforts for improving the routine immunisation coverage, can turn the tide. However, collective efforts at all levels are imperative,” said Dr Safdar.

“Considering current risks, the National EOC urges all parents to proactively vaccinate their children against all vaccine preventable diseases, including polio, free of charge from the nearby health facility,” he added.

Read | Polio eradication: Our culture is the biggest impediment

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five. It invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis or even death.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.

There are only two countries in the world — Pakistan and Afghanistan — where polio cases are being reported. Pakistan remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation due to which, since 2014, every person travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.