Lahore, Jan 26 (PTI) Over 200 children have died in Pakistan's Punjab province due to pneumonia owing to extreme cold weather in the last three weeks, the government said on Friday.
According to the Punjab caretaker government, most of the children who died "were also not vaccinated of pneumonia, malnourished and had poor immunity for lack of breastfeeding." The government has already imposed a ban on holding a morning assembly in schools across the province till January 31 because of extreme weather.
Since January 1, a total of 10,520 pneumonia cases have been reported in the province. All the 220 deaths were in children under the age of five, with 47 deaths in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab.
Mukhtar Ahmed, director of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in Punjab, said babies in Pakistan are usually administered with their first anti-pneumonia vaccine, called PCV, about six weeks after birth.
“From birth till the age of two, the EPI ensures that a baby receives 12 vaccines against different diseases," he said. "Of these, three are to protect children from pneumonia.
“Pneumonia can be caused by both bacteria and virus. Vaccinated children are safe against bacterial infection but they can still be affected by viral pneumonia." The government has asked the children to wear masks, wash their hands and use warm clothes so that they can be prevented from catching pneumonia.
"Last year 990 children died of pneumonia in Punjab," it said and expressed grave concern over the rise of pneumonia cases among the children in the province.
The government has asked senior doctors to adopt preventive measures to save children from catching pneumonia.
Viral pneumonia diseases are rapidly increasing among children due to an increase in the cold weather and this disease spreads like COVID-19, it said. PTI MZ AMS