Monkeypox unlikely to be Covid-like pandemic

May 24, 2022

Several public and private health facilities including the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKU) also issued their emergency infection alerts regarding Monkeypox

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Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 22, 2022. Photo: Agencies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top health body as well as provincial health authorities in Sindh on Monday issued separate alerts regarding Monkeypox viral disease, calling for an enhanced surveillance at airports and other entry points and asking public and private hospitals to be prepared for establishment of separate isolation and treatment wards for suspected Monkeypox patients.

Several public and private health facilities including the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKU) also issued their emergency infection alerts regarding Monkeypox and advised the staff to remain cautious, follow the infection prevention and control guidelines and take proper infection control measures.

Although experts believe that Monkeypox is “less likely” to become a pandemic like Covid-19 despite being a Zoonotic disease, which spreads from animals to humans, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad issued an alert directing all federal and provincial health authorities to remain on “high alert” for any suspected case.

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“All the stakeholders including those monitoring the entry points are advised to remain on high alert for a suspected case as timely detection and notification is important for prompt implementation of preventive measures,” an advisory issued by the NIH Islamabad said.

The top health body said all big private and government hospitals were directed to establish isolation wards. It also advised the medical staff at hospitals to be careful while being around Monkeypox patients. The advisory further said there were 92 confirmed cases of the virus in different countries and 28 were suspected cases in the world, adding that the virus transmitted from one animal to another and was now transmitting to humans also. The NIH said the virus spread via physical contact with the infected person.

Talking to The News, AKUH infectious diseases specialist Dr Faisal Mehmood said Monkeypox was less likely to become a pandemic like Covid-19 as it was less contagious than the coronavirus but added that authorities should remain on high alert for its detection.

“So the good thing is that compared to Covid, this is less contagious. Secretions of an infected person are contagious and you need closer contact to get the infection,” Dr Faisal said, adding that a person was infectious on the day of symptoms and not a few days before (like in the case of Covid-19).

It's easier to identify people who are sick, he said, adding that people who were sick would seek care as in this case, they won't think this was a routine cough and cold type disease. Hospitals and clinics just need to be vigilant, he added.

On the other hand, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it expected to identify more cases of Monkeypox as it expanded surveillance in countries where the disease was not typically found. As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of Monkeypox had been reported from 12 member states that were not endemic to the virus, the UN agency said, adding that it would provide guidance and recommendations in the coming days for countries on how to mitigate the spread of Monkeypox. "The available information suggests that human-to-human transmission is occurring among people in close physical contact with cases which are symptomatic", the agency added.



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