ISLAMABAD: The polio emergency operation center Pakistan has reported one more polio case from Balochistan on Sunday, taking the nationwide figure for this year to 50.
According to Punjab health officials, the latest victim of the virus is a three-year-old boy hailing from Duki District near Quetta.
The samples of the patient were taken and referred to the National Institute of Health (NIH) on May 22. His polio test returned positive on Sunday, the officials said.
On May 20, a polio case was detected in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to the Health Department sources, a one-year-old child had been diagnosed with poliovirus in Union Council Mamakhel of Bannu.
As per the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme’s website, the total number of polio cases reported in Pakistan this year has reached 49 – 03 from Punjab, 17 from Sindh, 19 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 11 from Balochistan.
Moreover, global polio eradication campaigns were also suspended in March for the first time in three decades amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, a polio vaccination drive will begin in Punjab from July. According to the details, the government had started preparations to launch the campaign in the second week of July.
In this regard, standard operating procedures (SOPs) had been finalized while polio workers will be given training before the beginning of the drive.
Punjab Health Secretary retired Captain Muhammad Usman, while confirming the news, recalled that the previous drive was interrupted due to the pandemic.
The total number of polio cases in Pakistan last year stood at 136, in which 92 cases were diagnosed from KP, followed by Sindh (25 cases), Balochistan (11 cases) and Punjab (8 cases).
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus mostly affecting children under the age of five.
It invades the nervous system and causes paralysis or even death. Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan and Nigeria, affected by poliovirus.
The fresh polio cases have surfaced at a time when all the vaccination campaigns are suspended due to the COVID-19 threat.
It is expected that the government may also resume vaccination campaigns across the country keeping in view the needs of children who are at risk of contracting the poliovirus, particularly in vulnerable areas.