KARACHI             -         Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the health department to resume polio eradication initiative from July 20 so that the crippling virus could be eradicated along with the ongoing drive to contain COVID-19 in the province.

This he said while presiding over a Provincial Task Force meeting for Polio Eradication here at CM House on Saturday, said a statement.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Nasir Shah, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Police Mushtaq Maher, ACS Home Usman Chachar, provincial secretaries, Dr Shaukat Chandio of UNICEF, Dr Aslif Demissie of WHO, Provincial Coordinator EOC Fayaz Abbasi, Shahnaz wazire Ali, Aziz Memon of Rotary International and other concerned.

Coordinator EOC Fayaz Abbasi briefing the Chief Minister said there were 58 cases of polio in the country, of them 20 were in Sindh, 21 in KPK, 14 in Balochistan and three in Punjab. The most recent case in Sindh was reported on June 9, 2020.

The Chief Minister was told that 16 Vaccine Derived Polio Virus 2 (VDPV2) were isolated from 10 environmental sites in Sindh, six in 2019 and 10 in 2020.

In Karachi, 15 VDPV2 were isolated from nine sites including District West - Site Town, Orangi Nalla, Qasaba Colony and Frontier Colony. In district East -Gadap Town: Sohrab Goth and Machar Colony. In district Malir- Bakhtawar village of Landhi Town. In district Korangi - Korangi Town and the areas included Korangi Nullah. In district South -Hijrat Colony of Saddar Town while in Sukkur: VDPV2 isolated from Makka Pumping Station.

In March 2020, 100 samples from healthy children were collected from draining UCs of Orangi Nalla Site Town, one sample was found positive for VDPV2 from District Central -North Nazimabad town. There were two, VDPV2 human cases from Karachi SITE and Baldia town in May 2020.

The Chief Minister was told that the COVID-19 negatively impacted Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan for certain reasons. They included all kinds of polio campaigns stopped since March 2020; AFP surveillance impact reflected through declining of reported AFP cases; essential immunization coverage for EPI antigens declined by more than 50 percent from the coverage before COVID-19 and Transit point vaccination program stopped since March 2020.

It was pointed out that an average of 700,000 under five years of age children could be vaccinated monthly. Without any vaccination, transmission begins to spread geographically from Sept 2020 with most transmission focused in Northern, Central and Southern Corridors and Karachi.

Alternating Serial Number Identification Number (SNIDs) and NIDs between July 2020 to Feb 2021 had a substantial impact on Wild Poliovirus Type-1 (WPV1) transmission and case burden.

Supplemental Immunization Activity (SIA) modalities have been revised with the objective not to introduce COVID-19 to communities not infected previously; screen polio workers for symptoms to reduce risk to households.

Health worker urged to use mask, sanitizer and ensure limited physical contact, particularly with adults, reduces risk to households; Children were low risk for COVID-19 infection, disease, transmission.

Risk to polio workers can be significantly reduced by being from the same community, avoiding contact with symptomatic individuals (especially adults), reducing unnecessary contacts and reducing risk of infection (PPE (mask) and hand sanitizer, physical distancing.

The Sindh Chief Minister directed health department to start special campaign in 23 UCs of District Central and West to immunize 26,742 children.

District West includes Pahar Ganj -2 8,599 children. Paposh Nagar 1 9475 children, Abbasi Shaeed-11 7052 children, Nazimabad-1 to 10 : 8207 children, Rizvia Society 1: 7261 children. Banaras Colony -7: 9589 children, Bawani Chali-5: 10164 children, Frontier colony 12277 children, Islamia Colony 7888 children, Qasba colony 12919 children.

The Chief Minister directed the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to share National guidelines for vaccination during COVID-19 with all vaccinators and PPE might be distributed to vaccinators in the province. He urged EOC in-charge to check proper use of PPE and COVID -19 vaccination guidelines checked during monitoring visits.

Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the EOC to launch monthly campaign from July to December with support of WHO. He added that five mobile vaccination vans might be deployed with support of Interactive Research & Development (IRD) in Super High-Risk UCs of Karachi.

It was decided to protect field staff and community; therefore, PPEs would be provided to each field staff during campaign round. Five and seven surgical masks would be given to each mobile team member. The field staff would have hand sanitizers, Thermometers and gloves.