PESHAWAR: Environmental samples collected from Kohat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) were tested positive for carrying poliovirus, the crippling virus that has traced back to Kabul.
The virus could have affected Afghan nationals as a huge number of them reside in the K-P provincial city, officials privy to the matter told The Express Tribune that Faqirabad was the place where the drainage system of around nine union councils with some two Afghan refugee camps converged.
The official said, “We have different points where we collect environmental samples and Kohat’s samples tested positive for the first time.”
The official, who requested not to be named, termed the test the reason for why a special campaign, what they called ‘event response’ was carried out in the area and every single child vaccinated against the virus.
The samples from Peshawar also tested positive and the district had already been termed as reservoir for poliovirus. However, repeated campaigns were being carried out, expecting the transmission to end this year.
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The last poliovirus cases reported from Peshawar on February 12, 2015 remained polio-free for almost two years.
Officials cautioned that one unvaccinated child could pose a serious threat for the whole community.
“One missing child is enough to turn things around and this is why we have constantly been focusing on follow up campaigns so that child not available during the campaigns as well as those constantly refusing the crops are administered anti-polio drops,” the official informed.
The environmental samples from Kohat were collected on January 10 and a National Immunisation Drive carried out on January 15, another official dealing with anti-polio campaigns said: ‘A special campaign was held on January 31 and adjacent districts were covered after the samples tested positive.’
“There is no doubt that in only one campaign, we can eradicate the virus but if all children are vaccinated and not even a single child is left behind,” he said.
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Moreover, emergency operation cell has planned to carry out another three-day campaign across the province where 5.7 million children below the age of five will be administered anti-polio vaccine.
Besides covering children at their homes, camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) along with Afghan refugees will also be targeted.
Around 21,151 teams including 18,409 mobile, 1,544 fixed, 926 transit and 272 roaming teams will participate in the campaigns where some 30,000 security personnel will be providing security to the polio workers.
Repeated vaccination campaigns for poliovirus cases sharply dropped the number of cases from 306 to only eight after one case each was confirmed from K-P, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan besides two from Sindh and three cases were confirmed from Baluchistan in 2017.