Poliovirus traces detected in Rawalpindi environmental sample

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Representational image of a laboratory test. — WHO/File
Representational image of a laboratory test. — WHO/File
  • It’s second positive sample detected in Rawalpindi this year: minister.
  • “Pakistan has one of the most developed polio surveillance systems.”
  • Interim govt is focusing on high-risk areas, says Dr Naedeem Jan.

Newly-appointed interim Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan on Wednesday confirmed that an environmental sample collected from Rawalpindi has returned positive, smashing hopes of a polio-free state by the end of 2023.

In view of the effective measures taken by Islamabad, the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (Unicef) Regional Director for South Asia, last year in December, hoped that the crippling disease will be eradicated from the country by the end of 2023.

Talking to journalists, the caretaker health minister said that it was the second positive sample detected in the city during the current year. In July, an environmental sample collected from Sarai Kullah had returned positive.

Hailing the services of polio workers and officials, he said that Pakistan has one of the most developed polio surveillance systems in the world.

The interim government is focusing on high-risk areas, Jan said, adding that they have devised a comprehensive strategy to eradicate the crippling virus from the country. 

Speaking on the occasion, he sought parents’ cooperation in the battle against polio.

Year’s first polio case

In March 2023, a three-year-old boy tested positive for the crippling disease in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), making it the first polio case of the year 2023 in the country. The boy is a resident of Ghora Bakka Khel in Bannu.

In August, wild poliovirus once again took a toll, crippling a three-year-old boy for life in Bannu as the government struggles to sweep the virus out of the country.

 Following the detection of the country’s second polio case in Bannu, Type-1 Wild Poliovirus was found in the environmental samples collected from Peshawar and Taxila Town of Rawalpindi district, said, the National Institute of Child Health (NIH) Islamabad.

“Pakistan’s National Polio Laboratory at the NIH Islamabad has confirmed the detection of Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1) in two environmental (sewage) samples collected from Peshawar and Rawalpindi, in July 2023. This is the sixth positive sample from Peshawar and the first positive sample from Rawalpindi this year”, said an official of the NIH Islamabad.



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