The federal government has confirmed two new cases of polio in Borno State, a development that has dealt a blow on Nigeria’s hope of being certified polio-free by July 2017.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, announced on Thursday that two children in Jejere and Gwoza Local Government Areas of Borno State, had been affected by polio virus.
The new cases were detected during a surveillance of the North-East region by health officials, Mr. Adewole said.
Before this reemergence, Nigeria had not reported a polio case since July 24, 2014, the World Health Organisation said.
Barring the new cases, Nigeria was on track to be declared polio free on July 24, 2017. A country must not have any case for at least three years to be declared polio-free.
To avert spread of the virus, Mr. Adewole announced emergency measures, involving the dispatch of a response team to the North-East.
He disclosed that about five million children in four states across the North-East would receive immunisation.
“Our overriding priority right now is to rapidly boost immunity in the affected areas to ensure that no more children are affected by this terrible disease,” Mr. Adewole said.
“Local health officials with the support of partners including WHO and UNICEF are conducting detailed risk analysis to clearly ascertain the extent of circulation of the virus, and to assess overall levels of population immunity in order to guide the response.
“As an immediate response, about one million children are to be immunised in four local government areas in Borno State. Children in adjoining states of Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe will also be immunised bringing the number to about five million in the four states.”