Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases rise

Pakistani authorities have launched an anti-polio campaign even as coronavirus cases suddenly rise

Authorities hope the latest campaign will help making Pakistan a polio-free nation.

Last year, Pakistan reported only one polio case from the country's southwestern Baluchistan province. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic and the disease can cause partial paralysis in children.

Pakistani authorities have stepped up security for polio teams.

In recent years, Pakistani militants have targeted polio teams and police escorting them, claiming falsely that the anti-polio drive is part of a Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence. These attacks increased after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse by the CIA in the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos in 2011 in Pakistan.

Monday’s latest anti-polio push comes amid a steady increase in cases of coronavirus.

In the past 24 hours, Pakistan registered more than 7,000 COVID-19 cases, one of the highest number of daily infections since June 2020.