No case of Chikungunya virus in Pakistan: WHO

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ISLAMABAD: No case of Chikungunya virus has been confirmed in Pakistan till date. Any information circulating with regard to confirmation of any case is incorrect and misleading, informs a joint statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health here Sunday.

The statement has been issued in view of unconfirmed reports about the presence of Chikungunya virus in Karachi, Sindh, especially in the areas of Malir. “The WHO, the Ministry of Health, and the Sindh Department of Health are working closely in the wake of these unconfirmed reports, and are carrying out epidemiological investigations,” the statement says.

While investigations continue, it is important for the public and healthcare providers to know about the risks associated with all illnesses of epidemic potential. In case of Chikungunya, it is important to know that although there is serological evidence of a historical presence of the virus in Pakistan, there is at this time no evidence of any nested transmission of Chikungunya in the country.

Secondly, imported cases can always appear, as for any disease, but such importation, once detected, would not cause any significant damage to public health.

Furthermore, the Chikungunya virus pertains to the same family of viruses as Dengue and Zika, but is known among the three for causing the least harm to health. Additionally, being transmitted by the same mosquito as Dengue, the measures that are already in place for controlling Dengue are identical to the ones that would be needed to control any surge of Chikungunya transmission. Epidemiological investigation supported by laboratory confirmation is being undertaken by health authorities.

It is critical to know that an External Evaluation Mission of experts mandated by the WHO Regional Committee of the Eastern Mediterranean Region has concluded, in a recently released report, that Pakistan is prepared to respond to any epidemic event. The assessment has been conducted in all provinces, and has technically reviewed the 19 areas of capacities required by International Health Regulation 2005.

Pakistan is thus in conformity with IHR requirements. “In the particular case of Chikungunya, WHO and the Ministry of Health wish to highlight that diagnostic capacities exist within the National Institute of Health and that additional testing supplies will be made available to eventually absorb any further testing demand. This statement is intended to restore proper messaging about the current situation with regard to Chikungunya virus in Pakistan,” the statement concludes.

—Originally published in The News

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