New Polio Cases in Balkh, Herat, Badakhshan as Immunisation Drives Paused by Coronavirus Pandemic

New polio cases were detected in provinces where cases had not been reported for up to five years and had been previously free of the life-threatening disease.

Mir Jan Rasekh, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Polio Eradication Public Awareness Programme said the disease re-emerged after immunisation programmes were halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic in the provinces of Balkh, Herat and Badakhshan.

The three provinces reported a single case each.

“We had worked hard for years and cornered polio to a limited geography,” he said.

Though only 14 cases were reported nationwide this year, it is the location which has sparked concern.

“The Coronavirus has helped polio spread beyond its endemic region of south and southeast, and now threatens people across the country,” added Rasekh.

Afghanistan is one of only three nations in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Pakistan and Nigeria.

Each year, up to 10 nationwide immunisation drives are usually completed in Afghanistan. However, due to the lockdowns, only two missions were carried out.
The Taliban still bans authorities from conducting campaigns in areas which they control.

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Latest from Newsfeed; Monday, June 15 2020