ISLAMABAD: A new case of monkeypox has been reported after a patient from Saudi Arabia tested positive for the virus, prompting the authorities to beef up measures at airports and set up isolation wards in hospitals.
The patient, deported from Saudi Arabia, arrived in Pakistan on April 17 with symptoms of the disease, the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination confirmed on Tuesday.
According to sources in the ministry, the patient is a resident of Mandi Bahauddin and was working as a driver in Jeddah. The National Institute of Health has established two teams to trace the patient’s contacts among passengers, at the airport, hospital and other places where the patient had possibly transmitted the virus.
So far, 22 contacts have been traced and kept in isolation after collection of their samples for tests, according to officials.
Sindh asks hospitals to set up isolation wards
Joint Health Secretary Mustafa Jamal Kazi told Dawn that a control room has also been established at the National Command and Operation Centre.
He said a virtual meeting was held on Tuesday attended by representatives of all the provinces and 31 departments and divisions including civil aviation and interior ministry.
It was decided that personal protective equipment would be provided at all airports and isolation wards would be established in hospitals of major cities, Mr Kazi told Dawn. Masks and gloves have been declared mandatory for all porters who come in direct contact with passengers at airports, he added.
Federal health ministry’s spokesperson, Sajid Shah, said the authorities are keeping an eye on inbound passengers.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government has also put hospitals on high alert.
The Directorate General Health Services has asked health facilities to designate separate units with up to five to 10 rooms for patients with monkeypox after the case was reported from Karachi.
The hospital administrations have been asked to nominate a focal person and ensure the availability of proper infection control measures.
Vaccination of children
Several global organisations and NGOs have joined hands to launch a new initiative to boost vaccination for preventable diseases among children.
The initiative was aimed at catching up on the lost progress as the rate of immunisation slowed down significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a statement, WHO, Unicef, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Immunisation Agenda 2030 and many other global and national health partners have come together for a targeted global effort to boost vaccination among children following declines driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2023