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WHO set to decide if monkeypox outbreak represents global health emergency

There have been 1,600 confirmed and 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox and 72 deaths in 39 countries this year

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WHO set to decide if monkeypox outbreak represents global health emergency
GNN Media: Representational Photo

The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene an emergency committee on Thursday next week to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

That is the highest level of warning issued by the UN agency, which currently applies only to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio.

There have been 1,600 confirmed and 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox this year and 72 deaths, WHO said, in 39 countries, including those where the virus usually spreads.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa but there have been more cases both in those countries and the rest of the world in recent months. The virus causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, and spreads through close contact.

It is thought to be fatal in around 3-6% of cases, according to WHO, although no deaths have yet been reported in the outbreak outside Africa. The majority of deaths this year have been in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it was time to consider stepping up the response because the virus is behaving unusually, more countries are affected, and there is a need for international co-ordination.

"We don't want to wait until the situation is out of control," said WHO's emergencies director for Africa, Ibrahima Socé Fall.

The committee meeting next week will be made up of global experts, but the WHO Director General makes the ultimate decision on whether the outbreak deserves the label, known as a PHEIC.

Experts have been pushing the WHO for faster action for several weeks, following criticism of the agency's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alongside COVID and polio, other disease outbreaks have been declared PHEICs, like Ebola in 2014.

A committee can also, however, pull back from raising the alarm. When a WHO emergency committee was set up to consider whether a yellow fever outbreak in West Africa in 2016 deserved the agency's highest threat level, it ultimately decided against it.

A WHO determination that an outbreak constitutes a global health emergency can help accelerate research and funding to contain a disease.

Tedros also said that WHO is working with partners on changing the name of monkeypox and its variants, as well as on a mechanism to help share available vaccines more equitably.

Some countries have begun vaccinating health workers and close contacts of monkeypox patients using smallpox vaccines, a related and more serious virus that was eradicated in 1980.

WHO issued new guidelines on monkeypox vaccination earlier on Tuesday.

SOURCE: REUTERS

Pakistan

Participants of National Security and War Course visit Naval Headquarters, Islamabad

"Participants of the National Security and War Course were briefed on the role of Pakistan Navy in the development of maritime defense and maritime sector"

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Participants of National Security and War Course visit Naval Headquarters, Islamabad

Islamabad: Participants of National Security and War Course visited Naval Headquarters in Islamabad on Wednesday.

According to Pakistan Navy spokesman, participants included officers from all three armed forces.

He said that participants of the National Security and War Course were briefed on the role of Pakistan Navy in the development of maritime defense and maritime sector.

Naval Chief Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi also addressed the participants of the course.

The course participants appreciated the efforts of Pakistan Navy in maritime peace and stability.

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Pakistan

PM Shehbaz Sharif appeals nation to follow SOPs amid COVID-19 surge

Pakistan has reported one death and 541 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, the highest since March 11 when it recorded 571 positive cases.

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PM Shehbaz Sharif appeals nation to follow SOPs amid COVID-19 surge

Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday appealed the nation to follow the anti-COVID SOPs as a surge was being recorded in the coronavirus cases in the country.

The prime minister, who chaired a meeting to discuss the COVID situation, said that the frontline health workers and doctors had rendered numerous sacrifices to keep the countrymen safe from the disease,, and also paid tribute to them.

Therefore, he urged the people not to squander the success achieved against the coronavirus.

The prime minister directed the chief secretaries of the provinces to ensure implementation of the SOPs at crowded places, besides enforcing full vaccination, booster doses, and use of masks and sanitizers.

He also called for use of masks and sanitizers at the cattle markets set up ahead of Eidul Azha, weddings and other private gatherings.

The prime minister said the adherence to the SOPs was inevitable for the safety of one’s own as well as the dear ones.

He said the performance of all institutions particularly the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) had been laudable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting was briefed in detail about the COVID-19 situation at local as well as the global level.

It was told that overall a downward trend was observed in the number of cases across the world.

The participants were told that the new variant of the Omicron led to a recent surge in coronavirus cases in the country. On June 28, over 3% cases were reported in the country on June 28, though the ratio of hospitalization in this variant was lesser than that of the previous waves.

The health authorities told the meeting that 86% of the above 12 years population had been fully vaccinated while 93 percent got at least a single shot. Currently, the country’s capacity was to vaccinate around 200,000 people per day.

It was told that the whole Sindh population had been fully vaccinated while the vaccination process was underway in Punjab and other provinces.

Moreover, the steps were being taken to strictly monitor the movement of people on the border, and Pass Track APP was also being improved to make it easier to use.

The prime minister also directed the authorities concerned not only to ensure the enforcement of the SOPs but also to carry out a mass awareness drive on the subject.

Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, Rana Sanaullah, Sherry Rehman, National Disaster Management Authority chairman, federal secretaries of information and national health services, and other senior officers attended the meeting.

The chief secretaries of the four provinces joined the meeting via video link.

It is pertinent to remember that Pakistan has reported one death and 541 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, the highest since March 11 when it recorded 571 positive cases. 

According to the figures released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Wednesday, an uptick in new COVID-19 cases in Pakistan consistently continues as the country reported over 500 new daily cases for the first time in three months. 

Following the situation, the health ministry said that wearing masks has been made mandatory on all domestic flights, railways and public transport.  

The overall tally of the infected people climbed to 1,535,144 across Pakistan after adding the fresh cases.  

March 23 was the first day without any recorded deaths in Pakistan since the pandemic took hold in 2020. Official death figures are typically lower at weekends and holidays because of a lag in reporting.  

The health authorities have advised the people to restart following COVID-related Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) such as wearing face masks, sanitizing hands, and maintaining social distance.

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Pakistan

LHC to announce verdict on pleas against Hamza's election as CM Punjab

LHC will announce the reserved verdict at 12:30pm on Thursday.

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LHC to announce  verdict on pleas against Hamza's election as CM Punjab

Lahore: The Lahore High Court (LHC) will announce the reserved verdict on pleas against the election of Hamza Shahbaz as Chief Minister of Punjab.

According to details, a five-member larger bench headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan resumed hearing the pleas today.

During the hearing, the bench sought arguments from Hamza’s lawyer that whether the Supreme Court’s verdict on the presidential reference related to defecting lawmakers applies to past events.

Hamza’s counsel maintained that the ruling doesn’t apply to past events unless the apex court itself says so.

Later, the court reserved the verdict and will announce it tomorrow at 12:30 pm.

In a previous hearing, the high court had hinted at holding fresh election for the post of Punjab’s chief minister under April 16 circumstances, when incumbent Hamza Shahbaz was elected in a poll on a court order. 

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