LAHORE: Punjab has deployed hundreds of polio teams at important transit points ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr to cater to population exodus amid fears of polio virus resurgence in key cities of Punjab.

The Eid transit point’s deployment plan, approved by the Punjab Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Khizer Afzaal, has been set in motion after all environmental samples which have tested positive in Punjab so far, were linked to polio virus clusters active in Afghanistan and other polio hotspots in Pakistan.

Punjab has tested 76 environmental samples this year. Out of the 76, eight samples have tested positive; raising fears that polio virus might spread in key cities, therefore putting children at risk of the virus.

Lahore and Multan top the list of positive samples so far with two virus importations. While one sample each from Rawalpindi, DG Khan, Faisalabad and Okara have tested positive. The positive samples in Lahore and Rawalpindi indicate that the virus is circulating in the region; even if no one case has been identified it’s alarming for all the children. If a single case is reported in a region, it remains threat to children residing in 200 houses in vicinity.

This Eid-ul-Fitr Punjab has deployed nearly 300 teams at 30 bus terminals, eight railway stations, 24 hospitals, 20 amusement parks and 10 shopping malls.

On Monday, Punjab inaugurated one of the sites with much fanfare at the Emporium Mall. Special stalls were set up to inaugurate the site. All the sites will continue till April 20 without break even during Eid holidays.

“The decision to set special transit points has been taken to ensure that virus does not return to the province or find its way through Punjab to other provinces,” confirmed Khizer Afzaal, the Punjab EOC coordinator.

“Transit polio teams have been directed to ensure that no child travels without two drops of oral polio vaccine,” Khizer added.

The Punjab Emergency Operations Centre anticipates mass movement to and from the affected high-risk districts of the country during Eid. The moving population run the risk of carrying the virus with them and infects unvaccinated and immuno-compromised children. The occasion of Eid also serves as an opportunity to vaccinate maximum number of children crossing through the sites.

The districts where Special Transit Points have been set up include Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, RY Khan, Sahiwal, Okara, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Gujrat.

The sites are in addition to the 23 permanent ones already functioning in Attock, Mianwali, Bhakkar, DG Khan, Rajanpur, RY Khan, Multan, Faisalabad, Lahore and Sialkot.

More than 2.2 million children were vaccinated at these 23 sites in 2023. Additionally, the programme is engaging more women and language appropriate vaccinators to communicate with the women of the households about the importance of vaccination. In total 726 priority community female frontline workers are deployed in 21 Punjab districts.

Communication staff is extensively working to register, map and profile high risk mobile populations entering Punjab so that all children are vaccinated during the campaigns.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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