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October 6, 2020

Two more polio cases confirmed in Punjab

National

October 6, 2020

LAHORE: The rapid circulation of two existing strains of poliovirus – wild poliovirus and type-2 polio – in Punjab simultaneously have exposed children to the crippling disease as two more cases of wild poliovirus were confirmed in South Punjab on Monday.

The wild poliovirus cases have mostly been confirmed in South Punjab districts, while the cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) have mainly hit the children in the districts falling within the Faisalabad Division.

The confirmation of wild poliovirus among children in two South Punjab districts of Vehari and Dera Ghazi Khan on Monday raised the total number of such cases to 12 in Punjab in the year 2020 so far, while eight cases of type-2 polio have been reported in the Faisalabad Division to raise the number of type-2 polio cases to 11 in Punjab this year so far.

After the emergence of so many type-2 polio cases in The Faisalabad Division, the Punjab Polio Programme is forced to start a special polio campaign as a case response campaign in four districts of the Faisalabad Division Faisalabad, Chiniot, Jhang and Toba Tek Singh.

Earlier, according to details provided by the Punjab Polio Programme, the children, who have been affected with wild poliovirus on Monday, belong to Mailsi Tehsil of Vehari and DG Khan. “The wild poliovirus has affected 89-month-old child from Vehari in his left leg, while the virus has affected 22-month-old child from DG Khan in his right leg”, says a statement issued by the Punjab Polio Programme.

The spokesman of the Punjab Polio Programme informed that both children belong to poor families. “The father of the child from DG Khan is a mason, while the father of the child from Vehari is a peasant”, he said. As per reports available, he said, the affected child from Vehari has recovered to a great extent. He explained that, after developing weakness in left knee and ankle, the child has shown signs of recovery the following day. “Now the weakness in leg has been reduced to a mild limp,” he added.

Commenting on the new cases, Punjab Polio Programme Incharge Sundas Irshad reiterated that poliovirus transmission will be interrupted this year in December. “After a 5-month interruption due to COVID-19, monthly polio campaigns have been resumed to ensure that virus transmission is interrupted”, she said, adding: “We will ensure that every child receives two drops of polio in every campaign.”

Meanwhile, the Punjab Polio Programme intensified the anti-polio drive in the Faisalabad Division as it launched a special case response campaign due to rising cases of type-2 polio cases in four districts of Faisalabad, Chiniot, Jhang and Toba Tek Singh.

Sundas Irshad confirmed that the case response campaign has been launched to counter to rising polio cases in the four districts falling under the division. “More than 5,000 teams have been constituted to vaccinate over 2.5 million children in the campaign,” she said, adding that the polio teams have been deputed at major hospitals and bus stands to ensure every child receives polio drops.

“We can eradicate polio only if every child receives polio vaccination in every round of polio campaign leaving no room for the virus to survive,” she said, and requested parents to cooperate with polio teams and ensure vaccination of their children. It is worth-mentioning that more than 30 million children, including nearly 18 million in Punjab alone, were deprived of polio vaccines across Pakistan due to the cessation of anti-polio activities in late March because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to experts, the polio is a highly infectious disease caused by wild poliovirus, mostly affecting children under the age of five, which invades the nervous system and causes paralysis or even death.

Out of a total of 77 confirmed wild poliovirus cases in Pakistan this year so far, as many as 22 cases have been reported each in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 21 in Balochistan and 12 in Punjab. Previously, a total of two wild poliovirus cases were confirmed in Punjab among overall 54 cases in 2015; no case was reported in Punjab among a total of 20 cases in 2016; one case was confirmed in Punjab among overall 8 cases in the country in 2017; none was reported in Punjab among 12 cases confirmed in 2018; and 12 cases were reported in Punjab among 147 cases confirmed in the country in 2019.

To add to this, 64 cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type-2 (cVDPV2) were confirmed across Pakistan in 2020 including 42 cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11 in Punjab, 10 in Sindh and one in Balochistan.