WHO assures assistance to contain monkeypox in Pakistan

Organisation against restrictions on trade on currently available information regarding monkeypox outbreaks

M. Waqar Bhatti
Test tube labelled Monkeypox virus positive are seen in this illustration taken May 22, 2022. — AFP
Test tube labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 22, 2022. — AFP

  • No evidence of localised transmission of virus found in Pakistan so far.
  • WHO against restrictions on trade with currently available information.
  • Organisation probing spread of virus with govt.

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation (WHO) Saturday assured to assist Pakistan as per its requirement to contain the monkeypox virus.

In a statement, the organisation said it has been working and probing the spread of the virus alongside Pakistan's government, as the situation continues to evolve.

WHO has assured assistance to the government, especially in the lab testing process, points of entry and providing testing kits.

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services stated that no evidence of localised transmission of monkeypox in Pakistan has been found so far, while the risk of its international spread from the country remains low.

WHO also does not recommend any restrictions on trade on the currently available information regarding monkeypox outbreaks.

Earlier this week, Pakistan detected its first two cases of monkeypox in people who travelled to the country from abroad.

According to health officials, the monkeypox patient was deported from Saudi Arabia and landed in Pakistan on April 17 with symptoms of monkeypox. Meanwhile, another person sitting with him on the flight also exhibited symptoms of the mpox. 

Meanwhile, in Karachi, Sindh health department officials told The News that no case of the virus was detected after samples of four people were sent to the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) tested negative, while results of the fifth sample are yet to arrive.

"Four people, including a 14-year-old boy and his father, as well as two Pakistanis who were deported from broad have tested negative for monkeypox, so at the moment, no person is infected with the infectious disease in Karachi or any other part of Sindh,” an official of the provincial health department said.

The federal and provincial governments have put health authorities on high alert and imposed certain SOPs to ensure that the virus is detected in a bid to ensure that it does not spread in the country.

Health authorities have also reactivated “COVID-19 protocols” at all entry points — including international airports — to prevent the entry of people carrying the mpox virus into the country, while special attention is being paid to the screening of hundreds of Pakistanis deported from different countries on monthly basis.

Mpox is a viral illness caused by the monkeypox virus, a species of the genus Orthopoxvirus. Two different clades exist — clade I and clade II.

The WHO has said that the common symptoms of monkeypox or mpox are a skin rash or mucosal lesions which can last 2–4 weeks and are accompanied by fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes.

Mpox can be transmitted to humans through physical contact with someone who is infectious, with contaminated materials, or with infected animals.