The World Health Organization (WHO) has extended travel restrictions on Pakistan for three more months over transferring of poliovirus to Malawi.

The travel ban on Pakistan was decided in November last year after a positive case of polio virus was reported in the African country of Malawi. According to health experts, samples of polio virus in Malawi belong to Pakistan and Afghanistan and it was possible that polio virus has been transmitted from here.

According to the World Health Organization, this is the first time since 2016 that a new case of polio virus has been reported from any African country. The latest travel ban has been imposed on Pakistan due to fears of a global polio outbreak.

Earlier in November last year, a three years old Malawian child was infected with polio virus and samples of the same virus were found in Pakistan earlier in 2019.

WHO Health Committee said that they have formulated a plan for Malawi and four neighboring countries which will run a special polio campaign and will also look into how and when the virus traveled to Africa.

WHO report said that positive environmental samples of poliovirus were being reportedly in Pakistan and particularly in southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It said that large scale movement of in the country and from the Afghanistan, situation in Afghanistan which has led to a large number of unvaccinated children and refusals in some areas were some of the factors which were leading to spread of virus in southern KP and southeastern Afghanistan.

Abdul Basit, head of KP Emergency Operations Center, the nerve center of anti-polio efforts in the province, said that besides Afghanistan and Pakistan, the virus has spread to 29 countries in the shape of type 1, 2 and 3 variants. “Every child needs to be vaccinated against polio as there was no border for the virus,” he said.

He said that to eliminate polio from both the Afghanistan and Pakistan, efforts should be made to inoculate people of all ages at crossing points and cross border vaccination sites.

“We are ready to play our role in this regard and striving to make this region polio free,” Mr Basit said.

Earlier in 2014, WHO had imposed travel restrictions on Pakistan in the aftermath of large number of positive cases, making it binding all adults travelling abroad to take polio drops.

However, Zameen Khan Mohmand, deputy coordinator, EOC said that earlier in January  this year, positive environmental samples were reported from Tank and Bannu districts of KP.

He said that refusal as well as the relocation of large number of people from other areas has become a major challenge for them.

Mr Mohmand said to control the situation, they have ran three special polio campaigns called the outbreak response campaigns (OBRs) across the province since December last year.

He said that the OBRs were ran soon after detection of cases in an area.

Mr Mohmand said that these campaigns have conducted in in six southern districts of the province  including Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat, North and South Waziristan.

Besides, he said that they have conducted OBR campaigns in 85 union councils and Afghan camps in the border areas with Afghanistan.

He said that according to WHO standards, technicians have surveyed the areas on the basis of which a series of polio campaigns have been launched to control the polio virus and avoid further restrictions.

However, the WHO report also pointed out that poliovirus has largely been contained in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past year and the cases have dropped considerably.

Pakistan had reported its last positive cases in January last year while only four positive cases were reported from Afghanistan in the same year.

Meanwhile, during the current year, Pakistan has not reported any positive case thus far, while Afghanistan has reported a single case.


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