YAOUNDE, Feb 25 — Cameroon today said it was launching a polio awareness campaign after two cases of the much-feared virus surfaced in the capital Yaounde.
Senior health ministry official Jose Shalom Tchokfe told AFP the authorities would advise the public about “respecting hygiene measures, stepping up routine vaccination and observing epidemiological vigilance.”
Health Minister Manaouda Malachie on Monday said “two cases of type 2 poliovirus” had been found in the Cite Verte district of Yaounde.
Polio’s return to the central African country is “a public health emergency,” he added.
“The risk of the spread of the virus is high,” he said.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that infects the nervous system and can lead to irreversible paralysis.
It mainly harms young children, but can be prevented with a highly effective and very cheap vaccine.
Last August, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that wild polio virus had been eradicated in all 47 countries in its Africa region, after four years with no new cases and a major vaccination drive among children.
However, the fight against polio remains unfinished.
Cases of type 2 polio virus that have derived from oral vaccines have been sporadically recorded in several central African countries, requiring the need for swift immunisation to control outbreaks.
Malachie, in his statement, said the government had launched “an in-depth investigation, heightened awareness in the population and planning for vaccinations in high-risk zones.”
The cases have emerged as Cameroon fights a second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. The country has a total of 33,749 cases, including 523 deaths. — AFP