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The Health Ministry (MOH) reports that there are no new cases of polio in Labuan, Sabah despite the virus being found in sewage samples taken from the territory.
Apart from tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysian health authorities have been busy running “surveillance” activities – taking environmental samples in 64 locations across the country – to detect traces of the poliovirus after cases resurfaced in Sabah in late 2019.
Poliomyelitis or the poliovirus is an infectious viral disease that mainly affects children, and can trigger life-long crippling health side effects or even death. The virus is predominantly spread through contaminated food and water supplies.
Prior to the recent four cases identified between December 2019 and March 2020, the last time Malaysia had a run-in with polio was back in 1992.
After conducting investigations and random screenings on 41 Labuan children (ages five and below), MOH concluded that thus far, the virus remains contained with no new outbreaks.
According to Health Director-General Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, the presence of polio in Labuan’s sewage was confirmed by experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Following the recent reappearance of the poliovirus in Sabah, health authorities have intensified immunization campaigns across the state.
Since there’s no cure for polio, the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) and the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) given via injection remain the only lines of protection we have against the disease.
Parents in Labuan are reminded to ensure that their kids under the age of 13 as well as toddlers between the ages of 2 to 18 months receive their immunizations on schedule to protect their health.
For more information, you can contact the Labuan Health Department’s hotline at 087-596020 or 087-596160.
Since the poliovirus made an unwelcome return in December 2019, a total of four cases have been identified in Sabah, affecting children in the districts of Sandakan, Tuaran, and Kinabatangan.
According to the WHO, the poliovirus remains a matter of great concern as infections have been identified to be on the rise globally.
Moreover, the WHO also classifies the poliovirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), akin to the coronavirus pandemic.
To make matters worse, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has arguably been disrupting international efforts at identifying and preventing polio cases.
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