LAHORE - Punjab is eyeing a polio free year ahead despite circulation of crippling virus even in major cities including Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan.

The Punjab government reacted to every positive environmental sample with initiation of special campaign with the only exception of last two incidences reported last month. As per the officials, special campaign has not been launched due to three-day nationwide anti polio campaign that started yesterday. The National Immunization Day would cover the entire country with special focus on vulnerable areas - Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan - from where positive environmental samples have been reported.

The three-day campaign will target 18.4 million children, under the age of five, in the province.

Punjab has constituted 44,654 teams in the province which include 37,845 mobile, 4,439 fixed and 2,370 transit teams. Pakistan has recorded 19 polio cases this year with eight each in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two in FATA and one in Balochistan. Punjab has had no case this year. Globally, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries still having polio cases.

Punjab’s Emergency Operation Coordinator Dr Munir Ahmed said recent environmental samples have been a cause of concern indicating the presence of virus in the environment. “At the end of the year, we are going to give this campaign our best shot. Rawalpindi positive sample last week was 10th in Punjab this year.

“We have had three positive samples apiece in Lahore and Rawalpindi, two in Faisalabad and one each in Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan. We are trying to reach out to mobile and migrant population coming from polio affected areas,” he added.