Pakistan to resume polio campaign as COVID-19 cases drop

Pakistan on Tuesday announced that it will be vaccinated against polio next week, a few months after the novel coronavirus inundated the country's health system.

The anti-polio campaign will run for three days from next Monday, in which about 800,000 children will be vaccinated, officials said. Requests have been received from police departments for the safety of polio workers.

Rana Mohammad Safdar, who oversees anti-polio activities in the country, said polio workers would do their duty and follow the rules of social elimination.

Following the announcement, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan's powerful army chief, told Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates that despite the Kovid-19 challenge last month, the government had reintroduced the polio vaccine nationwide. Bajwa did not give any date at that time.

Polio - a disorder caused by the poliovirus and deadly disease - The three countries that are still endemic are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The non-profit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped fight the disease in Pakistan and elsewhere around the world.

At a meeting in June, the World Health Organization reviewed the polio situation in Pakistan and elsewhere and expanded the sanctions initially enforced in 2014, requiring people to be vaccinated against polio a month before moving to Pakistan.

With only 12 cases reported, Pakistan hopes to eradicate the disease by 2018. But the next year saw an increase in new cases. Since January, Pakistan has reported 58 new polio cases from various parts of the country, including the Afghanistan border in the northwest.

The Taliban and other terrorists regularly attack polio crews and security forces, including vaccination centers and health workers, as they claim that the anti-polio campaign is part of a Western conspiracy to capture children or gather intelligence. Polio teams were attacked when it was revealed that the CII had used a fake hepatitis vaccine campaign to hunt down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In 2011, US Commando bin Laden was killed in Pakistan.

There have been more than 253,000 cases of coronavirus in Pakistan since the first infection was discovered in February, including 5,320 deaths.

On Tuesday, it reported 1,979 cases - a significant reduction in daily infections since May, when the lockdown was relaxed, leading to an increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths.

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