New disease outbreak in Gambia, Health Minister declares emergency

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Health Minister Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh declared on Wednesday a national public health emergency across the country following the confirmation of registering two positive cases of polio type 2.

The minister told a news conference that the declaration came in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on polio outbreak response standard operating procedures, as well as the International Health Regulations 2005.

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“Two environmental samples collected from sewage sites, one from Banjul and the other from Kotu, have tested positive for poliovirus type 2. This has created a polio outbreak situation in the country since a single positive poliovirus case is considered an outbreak under the 2005 International Health Regulations, thereby requiring an urgent response to breaking transmission,” Samateh told journalists.

“It is important to note that this outbreak is evidence of poliovirus circulation within the population but does not mean detection of polio paralysis in the population. In line with WHO recommendations, polio outbreak response Standard Operating Procedures, and the International Health Regulations 2005, I officially declare this outbreak a national public Health emergency,” he added.

He stated the government’s plan to embark on at least two massive supplementary polio vaccination rounds targeting 382,908 children from newborn babies to 59-month-old kids in each round.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus, which spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis. (XINHUA)

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