India steps up polio surveillance

New Delhi: Four cases of polio have been detected in China after a gap of 10 years. Reacting to this, India has heightened its surveillance in the border states against Polio.

The Health Ministry has put on high alert various border states in the country, asking them to put up polio booths.

States like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, besides Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been asked to compulsorily administer polio drops to all children entering India from any of the neighbouring countries.

Rapid Response Teams, especially trained for virus threats in the country, have also been put on high alert, said Health Ministry officials.

Punjab, which has an open border with Pakistan, has already set up polio vaccination booths at the Wagah border and the Attari railway station in Amritsar district, for administering polio drops to all children entering India from Pakistan, Punjab’s Health Secretary Satish Chandra said.

Polio drops would be administered to all children up to five years of age who enter the country through the train or road route or on foot from the Wagah checkpost, he said, adding that this would continue for the next few months.

Children will be compulsorily administered the bivalent polio vaccine, even if they have been vaccinated in the past, he added. Incidentally, Punjab has been polio free since 2009.

Pakistan has recorded as many as 84 cases of polio so far, while Afghanistan has also been reported polio cases regularly and so has neighbouring Nepal.

After four children in China’s Xinjiang province reported polio infection in August this year, China said polio had re-entered the country after a gap of ten years. It feared the infection had been imported from Pakistan into the country.

India has so far reported only one case of polio in West Bengal’s Howrah district in January this year and Ministry officials claimed that India’s polio campaign has given good results this year.