Pak confirms 5th polio case of year 17 days after victim's death

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

Islamabad, Jun 9 (PTI) Pakistan has confirmed the fifth polio case of the year, more than a fortnight after the victim's death, jolting the country's efforts to eradicate the crippling disease.

The victim, a two-year-old child from Balochistan's Quetta, died on May 22 before the confirmation of the poliovirus, the Dawn newspaper reported.

With the onset of paralysis on April 29, the case was confirmed after six weeks on Saturday, instead of the usual three weeks taken for diagnosis, the report said, quoting an official at the Regional Reference Laboratory of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

According to the NIH, the child's legs were affected by the crippling disease initially. He was later shifted to Karachi, but his condition worsened as the disease spread to his arms. He passed away a few weeks later, the report said.

The official said the child had not received a single dose of polio vaccine during routine immunisation. However, records show that he received five vaccine doses during supplementary immunisation activities. It was being investigated whether this was a case of vaccine refusal, the official said.

"The virus isolated from the samples belonging to the imported YB3A cluster of WPV1,” the official said.

The case was the fourth to be reported from the Balochistan province.

According to the report, the poliovirus was also detected in the child's siblings and cousins.

The Prime Minister’s coordinator on National Health Services, Dr Malik Mukhtar Bharat, said the case served as a reminder that until Pakistan achieved polio eradication, no child would be completely safe from the crippling disease.

Muhammad Anwarul Haq, the new coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said an investigation was underway to trace the source of the virus that led to the infection and identify potential gaps in vaccination coverage.

He replaced Dr Shahzad Baig, who resigned earlier in the month.

On June 1, Pakistan reported its fourth polio case of the year.

The victim was a 30-month-old child hailing from the Lakhi region of the Shikarpur district of the Sindh province. It was the first case to be reported from the Sindh province this year.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic, according to the World Health Organisation. PTI GRS NSA GRS GRS