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The New Arab Staff

Polio vaccination resumes in Afghanistan and Pakistan following surge in cases

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries in which Polio is endemic [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 August, 2020

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Afghanistan and Pakistan will both see a resumption in Polio vaccination programmes after campaigns were paused due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Polio vaccination campaigns have restarted in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the Covid-19 pandemic halted both programmes in March, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Afghanistan and Pakistan - the last two countries in which Polio is an endemic disease - are both battling a spike in cases.

In Afghanistan there are 34 confirmed cases, while Pakistan has recorded a total of 63. In the latter, the surge has emerged in regions of the country previously declared Polio free.

Most of Afghanistan's cases have been recorded in the south of the country.

Read also: Third of Afghans estimated to have contracted virus: health ministry

A health ministry spokesman said the campaign was paused over fears volunteers administering the vaccine could contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

Some 50 million children were left without a polio vaccine as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaccination programmes were resumed in three provinces in Afghanistan in July, with a second campaign set to begin this month, which will cover half of the country.

In Pakistan an initial round of vaccinations took place at the end of July and a nationwide campaign is due to start later this month.

"These life-saving vaccinations are critical if children are to avoid yet another health emergency," said Jean Gough, Unicef director in South Asia.

"As the world has come to see only too well, viruses know no borders and no child is safe from polio until every child is safe." Gough said.

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