India on Tuesday announced that proof of vaccination against polio would be mandatory after March 15 for everyone entering India from Pakistan to safeguard the country’s polio-free status.
Travellers from Pakistan will have to carry vaccination certificate, which would be later returned to them along with their visa.
“Pakistani nationals resident in Pakistan and planning to travel to India after March 15, 2014 will be required to submit along with their visa applications a certificate of vaccination for one dose of Oral Polio Vaccination received at least four weeks prior to departure to India,” a statement released by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said.
India had earlier announced that starting March 15, it would be mandatory for all persons – adults or children – travelling to the country from Pakistan to furnish proof of vaccination against the crippling disease.
“The step is being taken to safeguard India’s polio-free status attained after sustained efforts and investment,” an Indian High Commission official said.
Though the requirement was supposed to come into effect from January, India extended the deadline to allow Pakistan to set up necessary infrastructure.
The measure is applicable to all travellers from all countries where polio disease is endemic or where cases of polio are reported.
The number of polio cases in Pakistan, one of the only three countries where the disease is endemic, crossed over 90 last year. A number of fresh cases have also come to light this year.
Militants and gunmen frequently attack vaccination teams, accusing them of being Western spies and part of a plot to “sterilise” Muslims.
The announcement came on a day when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting on polio at his residence.
Sharif said it is a matter of grave concern that there is a possibility of travel restrictions being imposed on Pakistanis since virus from Pakistan has been found linked to polio cases in other countries.
“Since it is a question of honour, image and prestige of our country, we must redouble our efforts to eradicate polio from our country,” Sharif was quoted as saying in an official statement.