ISLAMABAD: After remaining a polio-free country for almost 15 months, Pakistan has reported a second case in less than 10 days.

The new cases have crated panic among the officials concerned as the virus can travel along with people because of massive movement during Eid holidays.

The new victim, paralysed by the wild poliovirus, is a two-year-old girl from North Waziristan, says Pakistan National Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad.

Earlier on April 22, a 15-month-old boy was confirmed to be a victim of poliovirus. Both children belong to Mir Ali Council of North Waziristan.

The wild poliovirus (WPV1) cases are genetically linked and belong to the same virus cluster, further validating the Pakistan Polio Programme’s concerns for southern parts of KP, where continuous virus circulation has been detected.

A team has been already sent to the area to administer oral and injectable polio vaccines to children to boost their immunity level.

“The National and Provincial Polio Emergency Operations Centres are conducting an emergency vaccination campaign after confirmation of the case last week. I strongly urge everyone travelling for Eid holidays to get their children vaccinated if they are travelling from one area to another,” said health secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja.

“This is deeply sad for all of us associated with the polio programme, but we are resilient and unwilling to fail. While we will do whatever it takes to ensure that this little girl is the last child with wild polio, we fear that more children from the same area may be affected as the virus circulates,” said National Emerg­ency Operations Centre coordinator Shahzad Baig.

The polio programme’s health workers continue to reach children in North Waziristan despite challenging circumstances in hard-to-reach areas.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2022

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