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Polio cases in India shot up to 641 in 2006, with 17 more cases in the last week of December pushed back India’s polio eradication efforts by at least two years. Apart from a spurt of 1,600 cases in 2002, polio occurrence has steadily declined in India since 2002. In 2005, only 66 cases had been reported, making public health experts optimistic about India becoming polio-free by 2007.

President A P J Abdul Kalam will launch the national polio immunisation campaign in New Delhi on Saturday. The campaign, to be held on January 7, will target 17 crore children between the age group of 0 to five years. According to an official of National Polio Programme, the polio campaign will be launched in all states and Union Territories. “We are doing this round with the aim to control the virus from circulating during its peak season of September-November,” he said. In 2006, the national immunisation campaign was undertaken during summers, he said.

The country has reported 624 polio cases in 2006, as compared to 66 in 2005. Out of the total cases, Uttar Pradesh has reported 509 polio cases (90 per cent) followed by Bihar where 52 children have been afflicted with the paralytic disease. Delhi has reported six cases.

The other cases were reported from Haryana (18), Uttaranchal (13), Punjab (8), Maharashtra (5), Gujarat (3), Madhya Pradesh (3), Assam (2), and one each reported from Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand.(PTI)

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