LAHORE - Polio virus was detected in Lahore on Wednesday - a day after the chief secretary told a HIGH-LEVEL meeting that Punjab has become polio-free province.
Punjab Provincial Task Force on Polio Eradication met Tuesday in Lahore with Punjab Chief Secretary Naveed Akram Cheema in the chair. He said: “No polio case has been reported in Punjab during the current year that reflects the good performance and hardworking of government departments.”
But the very next day, samples taken from a drain near Main Outfall pumping stations G and H have been tested positive. However, encouragingly environmental samples taken from other nullahs including Multan Road and Gulshan-e-Ravi have been tested negative, according to sources.
Positive samples indicate that polio virus was circulating in the sewerage water passing through the nullahs of the community, thus rendering children of the city at risk of getting polio.
The last environment sample which was tested positive was taken in December from the same site last year.
Like last year, government is considering launching repeated campaigns in the city across high risk union councils to immunize children against the polio virus.
Confirming reports of detection of polio virus in Lahore, senior officials who wanted not to be quoted emphasized, “there is a greater need for vaccinating children who are at homes, on the move or in schools”.
“In this situation where sample has been tested positive, health teams will be sent to every community to vaccinate children”, one official said.
“Health department may have to launch additional rounds of vaccination which means repeated polio campaigns”, he reiterated without giving dates.
About frequent rounds of vaccination, he said that repeated dozes were necessary so that a child develops a comprehensive and strong immunity system.
“It’s like building a strong wall of bricks against the disease”, he said adding “this is the reason that several polio campaigns are launched in the country during a year so that not even a single child misses a polio doze”.
According to him, polio campaign is started in a district if virus is found in sewerage water so that other children could be saved from polio.
According to research findings, it is imperative to administer OPV to over 90 per cent of children throughout the country during all the campaigns. He said that is vital that each child under five years of age is given polio drops. “If the child is not given OPV the presence of virus in the environment may affect him”, he said.
In the last week, five new type-1 wild polio cases have been reported in the country, three from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (two from North Waziristan and one from South Waziristan Agency) and one each from Sindh (Gadap Town Karachi) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Peshawar). This brings the total number of polio cases in 2014 to 54 (compared to 8 in 2013 till this time) from 9 districts/towns/tribal agencies/FR areas.
Short interval additional dose strategy (SIADS) started from April 28 targeting 2.4 million children in 19 districts / agencies / FR areas. In FATA; North and South Waziristan agencies (approximate target: 260,000) have not been reached for SIAs (since June 2012), Bara Tehsil of Khyber agency and three areas of FR Bannu could not start due to security concerns. No delay reported from Balochistan and Islamabad.