KOTA KINABALU: Sabah must check the movement of migrants in light of the resurgence of polio in the state.
Upko leader Joisin Romu said Malaysians – especially those in Tuaran district – were concerned about the outbreak of the disease nearly three decades after Malaysia was declared polio-free.
A three-month-old boy was infected with a poliovirus strand that shared the genetics as the virus that caused an outbreak in southern Philippines in September.
With Malaysians protected from birth with vaccinations, he said that Upko believes that the resurgence of polio could be due to the large numbers of illegal immigrants coming into Sabah.
He said steps must be taken to carry out operations to curb the illegal immigrant issue and to stop Sabah from becoming the source of poliovirus in the country.
Joisin, who is Upko supreme council member and Tuaran Upko division deputy chairman said the party has been highlighting problems concerning illegal immigrants and the socio-economic and security problems that came with it.
"It is very worrying to us that polio has been detected in Tuaran," he said.
Joisin added that Upko sympathised with the child's parents as he undergoes treatment.
"We hope that the child recovers quickly," he said.
The Health Ministry has not disclosed the details of the child or the exact location in Tuaran where the polio case was detected.
The child's father is reportedly a Malaysian though the family is believed to have Filipino roots.
The child was diagnosed with polio on Dec 6 making him the first case detected in Malaysia since 1992.
The ministry's deputy director-general Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong had said the child was vaccinated for the first dose and it was not enough to fully protect him.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad added that one can get infected when herd immunity is not achieved.
In a press statement, Dzulkefly had said that oral polio vaccine (OPV) was given from 1972 in Malaysia and was changed to an injectable vaccine (IPV) in 2008. OPV was discontinued in 2016.
He assured that there were no vaccine-derived polio cases before this and all those that were reported in the past were due to wild poliovirus.
"The ministry would like to stress that IPV did not cause this vaccine-derived poliovirus as it contains inactivated poliovirus," he said.