The National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Polio Eradication on Tuesday notified two new polio cases — both from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — bringing the total number of polio cases in the country to eight this year.
According to the EOC, one polio case has been confirmed from a sample taken from North Waziristan and the other from Bannu. The National Institute of Health had isolated the wild polio virus from a stool sample of 22-month-old boy Hamza of Kot Beli, Bannu and two-year-old girl Razia of Ahmad Khel, Miran Shah area of North Waziristan district.
An official of the EOC, citing the tense situation in parts of the province, also confirmed that the ongoing polio eradication drive has been suspended in 24 union councils of Peshawar.
The campaign was suspended after a large number of people staged a protest demonstration and resorted to violence following reports that a large number of students had been brought to hospitals after they were administrated polio drops.
The EOC officials said that the campaign has been suspended keeping in mind the safety and security of polio workers.
Provincial Health Secretary Farooq Jameel held the parents of the two victims of the polio virus responsible for their ailment.
Talking about yesterday’s events in Peshawar, he said that a fresh vaccination drive will be launched in the area once the situation improves and after parents’ trust is regained.
“Those who talk about a […] conspiracy [behind the polio vaccination] have no hesitation in providing imported milk and biscuits to their children,” he regretted, adding that such type of events hurt the reputation of the country on the international level.
Meanwhile, KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai held a press conference and credited the media for exposing what he called the “drama” over the polio vaccination drive yesterday.
“The drama, which started from one school, was spread across the city,” he recalled, adding that the entire episode was staged under a coordinated conspiracy to derail the polio immunisation drive.
“More than 25,000 children were brought to hospitals [as a result of the ensuing panic],” he added.
The minister added that one of the “main characters of the drama” had already been sent behind bars, whereas those who burnt a basic health unit will be identified very soon.
“We are an atomic power, we cannot allow ourselves to be weakened by the polio virus,” he reiterated.
The minister appealed to the masses not to politicise the issue. He added that foolproof security measures will be taken for the security of polio vaccinators.