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Balochistan puts schools on ‘high alert’ for monkeypox cases


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This undated file photo shows young girls seated in a classroom. — AFP

The Balochistan government Saturday put school officials on “high alert” for monkeypox cases, days after the country’s first infections emerged.

The province’s Directorate of Education, in a notification, asked district education officers and principals to take “appropriate, timely and prompt implementation action and preventive measures to control [monkeypox’s] viral infection spread”.

It directed them to contact a hospital in case anyone was found to have symptoms and keep the student or person infected away from others.

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.

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 World Health Organisation (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.

In its notification, the education directorate also mentioned these symptoms, stating that the infected person would develop a rash within 1-3 days of having a fever, which would usually spread from the face to the rest of his body.

Earlier today, the WHO assured Pakistan of assistance in containing the monkeypox virus.

In a statement, the organisation said it has been working and probing the spread of the virus alongside the 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. 

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