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Saturday April 13, 2024

Two more polio virus cases detected in environmental samples

By M. Waqar Bhatti
December 03, 2022
A child is being administered polio drops by a health worker. — AFP/File
A child is being administered polio drops by a health worker. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Polio Laboratory has confirmed the detection of two cases of Type-1 Wild Polio virus (WPV1) in the environmental samples collected from Faisalabad and Peshawar in November 2022.

Providing the details of the new positive environmental sample in Faisalabad, National Institute of Health officials said the positive environmental sample was collected on November 07, 2022 from the ‘Pumping Station-3 Achikaira’. It was the first positive polio virus case reported from the city in 2022.

Before this episode, the last positive sample detected on April 05, 2021 from the district but it was an orphan virus variant. However, the last Wild Polio virus case was reported in 2008. Starting from November 28, a week-long anti-polio virus campaign is currently underway in the district.

Similarly, Type-1 Wild Polio virus (WPV1) was also detected in the environmental sample collected from Peshawar (Naray Khuwar site) in November 2022. The last Wild Polio virus case from the district was reported in July 2020. The site covers seven union councils , which have a population of 460,511 individuals, including 67,791 children under the age of five years. The last anti-polio virus campaign in the district was conducted in October from 24 -30. The next campaign will be conducted from December 5 -11, in the district.

With the latest detection of polio virus cases, the tally of positive samples of polio virus in the country reaches 34 during 2022. The month-wise breakup shows one positive sample was detected in April, two in May, one in June, seven in July, twelve in August, eight in September, one in October and two in November, said officials. During the ongoing year, so far, 23 positive cases have been detected from KP, 9 from Punjab and one each from Sindh and the federal capital.

The city and district wise breakup indicates ten from Bannu, six from Peshawar, five from Swat, three each from Lahore and Rawalpindi, one each from Nowshera, South Waziristan, Bahawalpur, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Karachi and Islamabad. In 2021, 65 positive environmental samples were detected in the country.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Polio Oversight Board (POB) led by Dr Chris Elias said there is an unprecedented support and commitment to eradicate polio in Pakistan by 2023. “The eradication is within the reach given the resolve of the government and the community, especially front line workers. Reaching every child during the upcoming polio campaigns and strengthening the routine immunisation system is critical to success,” said Elias.

During the visit, the delegation met the prime minister, federal health minister, Pakistan Army’s engineer-in-chief and the heads of provincial governments of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, and reiterated support to help Pakistan end polio virus transmission by 2023.

The Polio Oversight Board is the highest decision-making body of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This is the delegation’s second visit to Pakistan this year. The earlier visit was in May, following the detection of a polio case in Pakistan after nearly 15 months. The recent visit follows the destruction of several health facilities and mass displacement due to catastrophic floods, which increased the risk of transmission of polio virus.