ISLAMABAD/QUETTA: Four more cases of polio have been found, taking the tally of children infected with poliovirus in the country this year to 47.

According to an official of the National Institute of Health (NIH), all the new victims are girls. Three belong to Balochistan and one is from Sindh.

The three polio cases in Balochistan were found in different districts of the province.

According to the Balochistan health department, poliovirus has been confirmed in an eight-month-old girl belonging to Union Council Islamyar in Zhob. Samples of the girl were obtained on April 16 and 17. The family of the girl had refused to get the girl inoculated when a team of vaccinators visited them during an anti-polio campaign.

Other victims, four-and-a-half-year-old and 13-month-old girls, belong to Naseerabad and Jhal Magsi districts, respectively.

The polio cases in Balochistan have seen a spike recently as the number of polio cases in the province has increased to 10 this year.

The NIH official said the child from Sindh, 36-month-old girl, belonged to Kambar district. He said socioeconomic status of all the four children was poor.

It is worth mentioning that 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, his/her 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. Moreover, there are only two countries in the world — Pakistan and Afghanistan — from where polio cases are still 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.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2020

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