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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Monkeypox threat: WHO 'satisfied' with arrangements at Karachi, Islamabad airports

WHO team, headed by country head Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, visited different lounges of both airports

By Tariq Abul Hasan & Web Desk
May 04, 2023
A health worker walks inside an isolation ward for monkeypox patients at a hospital in Ahmedabad, India. — AFP
A health worker walks inside an isolation ward for monkeypox patients at a hospital in Ahmedabad, India. — AFP

A World Health Organisation (WHO) team visited Karachi and Islamabad airports on Thursday and expressed satisfaction with the preventive measures taken against the spread of monkeypox, sources and officials told Geo News.

The WHO team, headed by country head Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, visited different lounges of both airports where they were briefed about steps taken by the authorities.

The team visited the international arrival/boarding bridges, including corridor and immigration counters at the airports. 

Later, the team expressed satisfaction over the preventive measures against monkeypox taken by the authorities at Karachi airport, the sources confirmed. While Islamabad airport manager confirmed that the visiting team was satisfied with the arrangements.

Two cases of mpox in Pakistan were confirmed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the capital Islamabad last month.

After being in isolation both patients have now completely recovered. Meanwhile, the NIH said there was no evidence of localised transmission of the viral disease in Pakistan.

Mpox — which spreads via close contact — was declared a global health emergency by the global health body in July 2022. The organisation maintained its alert in November.

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.

On November 28 last year, the WHO named the disease mpox to replace the older term monkeypox, citing concerns of stigma and racism associated with the name.

The Pakistani authorities have put health departments 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

Last week, the WHO vowed 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.