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After detection of virus, emergency immunisation drive launched

Health authorities have discovered traces of poliovirus in environmental samples collected from the capital nearly 10 years after the last case of the crippling disease was reported from the city.

As a result, an emergency polio vaccination drive was launched in Islamabad on Monday.

An official of the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) on polio told The Express Tribune that environmental samples collected from the capital recently had tested positive for polio.

While last polio case from Islamabad had been reported back in 2008, they could not take any chances. Hence, a polio vaccination drive was planned on an emergency basis.

Officials said that continuous migration towards the capital from all parts of the country was a major factor for transmission of polio virus.

During the three-day immunisation drive which started on Monday, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) aim to reach over 0.3 million children aged five or below. A total of 949 teams are going door to door in Islamabad, apart from the 128 fixed teams and 73 volunteers deployed at transit points.

Over 650 personnel of Islamabad Police and FC have been deployed to provide security for the vaccinators.

Meanwhile, an ICTA officer said that some parents from the rural areas were still refusing to get their children vaccinated.

“Whenever we face a refusal, usually the administration talks to community leaders and amicably resolves the issue,” the officer said. He added that some private schools in the capital had also refused to allow vaccinators through.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Sattar Isani who is supervising the campaign in the capital said ample arrangements had been made to make the campaign a success. He said standards of cold chain management had also been ensured. “We request people and parents to cooperate with the vaccination teams and ensure that their children are covered during the drive,” Isani said.

Two polio cases have been reported in the country this year so far, one from Punjab while the other is from the Diamer region in Gilgit-Baltistan – a region where the last case of polio was reported in 2011.

Altaf, Arslan. After detection of virus, emergency immunisation drive launched. The Express Tribune, March 28, 2017.

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