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Africa’s Polio Plans On Hold

Vaccinations for up to 12 million children to prevent the spread of polio in Africa will be delayed, in a major redeployment of polio eradication resources to fight the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Polio prevention campaigns, which are vital to avert outbreaks, will be suspended until at least the second half of 2020, said Dr Pascal Mkanda, the head of polio for World Health Organization Africa. The decision will inevitably lead to a rise in polio cases. “We took the difficult decision to suspend these plans and considered it would have a significant impact on preventing the spread of new outbreaks,” he said. “New outbreaks of polio will appear because we will not be able to administer the vaccines in time.” The effect of the lack of vaccinations has already begun to emerge. On Saturday, Niger reported two new polio cases, affecting children in the capital, Niamey, and the Tillabéri region, according to the WHO. The cases are the first in the West African country since an outbreak which lasted two years was eradicated last December.