PESHAWAR: The total number of polio cases detected in the country has risen to eight after the confirmation of three new such cases in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) within the last 13 days.
The first three cases were reported in Balochistan during the first quarter of the current calendar year. The fourth was reported in Karachi and the fifth in K-P in September.
On October 18, four-year-old Saira tested positive for the crippling virus, while on November 1 (Thursday) in Bajaur, Azra, five, and Abu Bakar, seven, were the latest victims of the crippling virus.
In the recent polio tests, stool samples of children suspected of polio, also known as Acute Flaccid Paralysis, were sent to the National Institute of Health, Islamabad. Samples of two tested positive.
“Yes, it has caused panic. It’s something really disturbing as we were celebrating the end of polio for two years, but with these three new cases, we are in a state of shock,” a senior official dealing with the polio eradication campaigns in tribal districts told The Express Tribune.
Polio cases reported from Khyber, Karachi
The official, who wished anonymity as he was not entitled to talk to the media, said massive and successful campaigns had been held in tribal districts; however, movement of general public to and from Afghanistan caused problems for the drive.
“This is a fact that it creates problems for us since every time we do genetic sequencing of the virus it is traced back to Afghanistan and the same is the case in Afghanistan where cases are traced back to Pakistan,” he informed.
He said in September, stool samples collected from different cities, including Karachi, Bajaur, Kohat, Nowshera and Peshawar, tested positive for the virus. Although these fresh cases have alarmed the authorities, the situation is still far better than the previous years.
Polio cases in the country dropped from a high of 306 in 2014 to just eight in 2018. In K-P and Fata, before its merger with the former, the number of such cases was 247 in 2014. However, with active vaccination drives the cases have fallen to four in 2018.