Days after Pakistan declared itself free from mpox, Punjab province reported its first case of the disease on Tuesday, with the health authorities issuing an alert for the public and private sector hospitals across the province to take emergency measures.
According to the Punjab Health Department, the first mpox case in the province was detected in a man who arrived from Saudi Arabia last month.
"The 40-year-old man belonging to Mandi Bahauddin district of Punjab has been diagnosed with mpox upon his return from Saudi Arabia last month," Punjab caretaker Health Minister Dr Javed Akram told reporters on Tuesday.
Mpox is the preferred term for monkeypox, changed due to concerns of stigma and racism associated with the name, according to the World Health Organisation.
Akram added that the report of another suspected patient is awaited.
He said an alert was issued to government hospitals across the province regarding mpox and asserted that passengers suspected of having the disease should be screened inside the planes or at airports.
Earlier, a seven-year-old boy in Karachi, suspected of suffering from mpox, was admitted to a hospital and kept in an isolation ward.
The new case comes days after Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel claimed that Pakistan was free of mpox disease, as the only patient who tested positive for the virus had recovered.
“Currently there is no patient of mpox in Pakistan as the only confirmed patient has been discharged from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad after fully recovering,” the federal health minister tweeted on Sunday.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mpox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although clinically less severe.