KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan on Wednesday confirmed at least five new cases of poliovirus amid the resumption of the vaccination campaign.

Dr. Mohammad Sidique, a Health Ministry official, told Anadolu Agency all new cases are from the southern Kandahar and Zabul provinces, particularly in the Taliban-held areas.

He said due to the coronavirus pandemic, the regular polio vaccination drives were halted nationwide in March, and have now been resumed.

Afghanistan is among the only two polio-endemic countries in the world. The second being its neighbor Pakistan.

Since March, 34 new polio cases have been reported in the country, according to UNICEF.

The disease — which affects children under the age of five — causes crippling and is sometimes fatal.

The UN agency has expressed fears that up to 1 million children could miss out as door-to-door vaccinations are not possible in some areas and parents will have to make their way to health clinics to have their child vaccinated.

Coronavirus deaths

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed 10 more deaths due to the coronavirus taking the nationwide tally to 1,354.

Infections in the country have risen to 37,199, with acting Health Minister Ahmad Jawed Usmani saying COVID-19 has infected 31.5% of the total population, however many of them are asymptomatic.

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