Monday April 23, 2018

Polio death rumor sparks tension in Kashmir valley

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Srinagar: Authorities on Sunday appealed for calm after rumoured deaths of children following polio vaccination in the Kashmir Valley triggered a mad run to hospitals by hundreds of anxious parents with their children.

Huge crowds thronged hospitals across south Kashmir in the wake of the rumours, fearing for their own children who had been vaccinated, even as officials insisted that not a single death had occurred anywhere.

Mosques also made announcements asking parents not to panic.

“No death has been reported in the valley due to polio drops,” Anantnag Chief Medical Officer Fazil Kochak told agencies on the phone, adding “miscreants are propagating false information through social media.”Parents are requested not to heed these rumours which have no basis at all,” he added.

But despite the denials, scores of worried parents who had got their children vaccinated against polio rushed to hospitals. In Srinagar, this led to traffic jams.

Authorities urged radio and television stations to air the official denial to calm the situation. The polio drops are being administered across the Kashmir Valley through family welfare sub-centres as well as private and government hospitals.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Nitish Kumar told the agency that they were tracking the source of the rumour.  “We are trying to find out the source and will take legal action against the culprit,” he said.

A health employee at a hospital in Anantnag said hundreds of parents had brought their children who were administered polio drops.  The rumours suggesting deaths were baseless, said senior health department official Mandeep Bhandari, adding the polio vaccine was 100 percent safe. (IANS)(Image-crs-blog.org)

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Polio Vaccination Team Members Killed in Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world where polio is still endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria

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Relatives mourn a female anti-polio drive campaign worker who was shot to death by gunmen, at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, Jan. 18, 2018.
Relatives mourn a female anti-polio drive campaign worker who was shot to death by gunmen, at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, Jan. 18, 2018. VOA

Two vaccination workers were killed and two were seriously wounded, officials said

Militants ambushed a polio vaccination team in a remote tribal region in Pakistan, killing two of the medical workers and seriously wounding another two, officials said Sunday.

The gunmen also attacked tribal police and the paramilitary Frontier Corps when they responded to the attack late Saturday, killing one paramilitary and wounding another.

ALSO READ: Detection of a rare strain of Polio in Pakistan’s Balochistan alarms authorities

Polio workers have come under attack on several occasions since it was revealed that the CIA used a polio vaccination campaign as a ruse to get information on Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. commandos in Pakistan in 2011.Those revelations fed into claims by Islamic extremists that the vaccinations are part of a Western plot against Muslims.

A boy receives polio vaccine drops by anti-polio vaccination workers along a street in Quetta, Pakistan, Jan. 2, 2017.
A boy receives polio vaccine drops by anti-polio vaccination workers along a street in Quetta, Pakistan, Jan. 2, 2017. VOA

ALSO READ: World Polio Day: Anti-Polio drive in Balochistan kicks off Today

An official in Pakistan’s restive Mohmand Agency, Younus Khan, said two workers from the seven-member polio vaccination team went missing after the attack but later returned unharmed. He says security forces are still searching for the attackers.

Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the attack.

Khan said the bodies of the polio workers were handed over to relatives and their funeral will take place later in the day.

Provincial Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra condemned the attack, calling the polio workers heroes. VOA

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