US issues travel alert for polio-endemic Asian countries

Published: January 12, 2020
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

The United States has generated a Level 2 travel alert for polio-endemic Asian countries, including Pakistan, following an outbreak of the crippling disease.

The US has also made mandatory the life-time booster dose for adults during the period of restrictions imposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The US issued new guidelines for travellers bound for polio-endemic countries on the recommendations of its Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop spread of the virus to other states.

“The World Health Organisation recommends that these countries require residents and long-term (four weeks or more) visitors show proof of polio vaccination before leaving the country,” reads the level 2 travel alert by the US.

It says adults who have completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single lifetime adult booster dose of polio vaccine before travelling to these countries.

According to the CDC, the polio outbreaks have been reported in eight Asian countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Philippines.

Particularly, the WHO had extended travel restrictions on Pakistan following frequent outbreaks of vaccine-derived poli-ovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) and wild polio-virus type 1 (WP1) cases.

However, Minister of State for National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza out rightly denied that any new polio-related travel restrictions had been imposed on the country.

“The WHO Emergency Committee recommendations (not travel restrictions) were first made in May 2014 and have since been periodically reviewed and extended for all countries infected by the polio virus,” Dr Mirza said in a statement issued by the ministry on Friday.

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