From Indus to the Nile: Pakistan polio virus creeps into Egypt

Published: January 22, 2013

Anti-virus counters to be set up at international departure lounges. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Originating from Pakistan, the crippling polio virus has now made its way into Egypt after China.

Following the export of the deadly virus to the Middle Eastern country, the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell, along with its international partners the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef, on Monday directed all the provincial governments and the federal administration to immediately establish polio vaccination counters inside international departure lounges at all airports across the country.

Pakistan is struggling to eradicate the virus and has become a threat to all other countries, which have been declared polio free.

Recently two sewage samples collected from the Al Salam and Al Haggana areas of the Cairo district, when examined in a laboratory, had resemblance to a strain discovered in the sewage water tested in the Sukkur district of Sindh.

Earlier, the PM’s polio cell has asked the Sindh government several times to improve its polio immunisation on an emergency basis in order to control the transmission of its virus.

Though the virus has not infected any child in Egypt and the country remains polio-free since 2004, the Egyptian ministry of health has ordered immediate vaccination of all children less than five years in the localities near Cairo from where the Pakistani-origin virus was discovered.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Altaf Boson, national coordinator for monitoring Pakistan’s polio vaccination programme, said earlier polio vaccination counters at the airports used to be established during anti-polio campaigns only but from now on the counters will be functional 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He said transmission of polio virus within and out of the country is possible due to mass movement of population.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication ShahnazWazir Ali in a statement issued said, “Importation of polio virus is a stark reminder of the risks associated with active polio virus transmission in the country and the need to make efforts to stop the transmission on an urgent basis in Pakistan”.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (11)

  • Muslim
    Jan 22, 2013 - 11:34AM

    now thats called an international propaganda against Pakistan…..

    Recommend

  • Nathan
    Jan 22, 2013 - 12:03PM

    Now Pakistan can tell Egypt a la terrorism

    ” It is all because of non state actors. Both Pakistan and Egypt are affected by Polio.In fact Pakistan is affected a lot more. So you can not doubt our resolve to fight polio. At the same time if you want to say polio came from Pakistan, give us proof which can stand in a court of law in Pakistan and we shall take action.”

    Seems familiar?

    Nathan

    Recommend

  • Super Star
    Jan 22, 2013 - 12:16PM

    Its a matter of time when this virus comes back to India as well. India should Stop this open Visa / open Border Policy with Pakistan. All world airports should compulsorily check Pakistanis and Pakistan returned people for this virus

    Recommend

  • Nathan
    Jan 22, 2013 - 12:20PM

    Also Pakistan should tell the world community that it is being unfairly targeted. It is the front line nation in the fight against polio as the maximum number of cases are reported from Pakistan

    Nathan

    Recommend

  • Jat
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:08PM

    Pakistanis should be quarantined inside Pakistan, and all travel to and fro should be stopped. We can’t risk the future of our children and future generations on these religious fanatics and military dictators.

    Recommend

  • Fahad
    Jan 22, 2013 - 3:43PM

    Hey Moderator ,

    Where are you ? , does the comments from Jat and Super star not seem offensive to you , Please i request you to remove both of these comments. Currently its already a lot difficult for Pakistanis to travel to other countries we don’t need any further issues ! . We are all highly dedicated and technically strong people we are recruited by all of the world , these propaganda are only to reduce our foreign remitences that plays a major part of our country development.

    Recommend

  • Sudheer
    Jan 22, 2013 - 6:12PM

    @Fahad
    I really wonder at the kind of fantasy world you live. Do you know that Pakistan has already been warned by the WHO{World Health Organization} that if virus is not contained, visa and travel restriction would be imposed on her citizens.
    Weaving conspiracy theories and living in denial is not going to work anymore. The time is up!
    http://dawn.com/2012/03/21/polio-virus-in-pakistan-who-warns-of-travel-ban-2/

    Recommend

  • Fahad
    Jan 23, 2013 - 8:57AM

    @Sudheer

    I think you only read the headlines , kindly next time read the article as well.

    [ “Some countries in their individual capacities want to impose travel restrictions that are not in the benefit of Pakistan and must be avoided. It must be clarified that WHO is not a party to any of those plans.”

    Dr Aylward said that many countries were asking for steps similar to those taken by Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia has issued a special travel advisory for Pakistan pilgrims that requires Pakistani authorities to ensure that all visitors to Saudi Arabia are vaccinated. Hence, visitors are expected to be vaccinated before they leave Pakistan and also get vaccinated once they arrive at their airports.” ]

    The step to vaccinate people is a good one and would not offend any Pakistani, Imposing travel restriction all together is then again as per the plans of those that have always had problems with us ! .

    Recommend

  • Dooli
    Jan 23, 2013 - 2:57PM

    Has anyone seen any scientific proof of this report?
    Did WHO say what method was used to trace the origin of the virus?
    Without scientific proof, this can all be hearsay. The only method that can say anything about the origin of the virus is through phylogenetic studies.

    Recommend

  • Sudheer
    Jan 23, 2013 - 6:22PM

    @Fahad,
    Dude, why are you trying defend the indefensible. Read the report on the same issue published today on the ET. The report ends with the following sentence:
    The release also warned that the development was likely to result in international health regulations being invoked-which can have implications for Pakistanis travelling abroad.
    Got it now!

    Recommend

  • nomi
    Jan 24, 2013 - 1:51AM

    @ all

    When Pakistanis would be banned from performing Hajj, who would they blame?

    I suggest Pakistanis find someone to blame immediately and come up with a good conspiracy theory.

    Recommend

More in World