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Government on high monkeypox alert

BANGKOK: Thailand is considering raising further its health alert for monkeypox by listing it as a so-called “serious communicable disease”, after the viral disease was classified as a new public health emergency worthy of international concern.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 25 July 2022, 09:27AM

Anutin: No travel curbs for now. Photo: Bangkok Post

Anutin: No travel curbs for now. Photo: Bangkok Post

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday (July 23) declared monkeypox as “A Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and urged member countries to find effective methods that do not stigmatise target groups, reports the Bangkok Post.

The Ministry of Public Health yesterday raised surveillance measures nationwide in response to WHO’s announcement, said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

He was speaking after chairing an urgent meeting with health authorities in which they discussed responses to the monkeypox outbreak.

This comes after detection of the first confirmed case in the country, a Nigerian tourist who escaped into neighbouring Cambodia after he was found to have the disease before being nabbed there.

The man has been detained in Cambodia while tracing of his close contacts in Phuket where he stayed in the past month is under way. None have been found infected by monkeypox, said Anutin.

“As none of the Nigerian man’s close contacts are infected, it’s a relief to some extent,” he said.

“We will meet again within hours so the ministry’s academic committee comprising medical and public health experts can discuss a proposal to declare monkeypox a new serious communicable disease in Thailand,” he said.

Anutin also indicated there are no plans for Thailand to seek the return of the Nigerian man from Cambodia.

Anutin said yesterday he expected the patient to receive treatment in Cambodia. “It’s good to see him treated there,” he said, adding he expected his condition would improve.

In Cambodia, Khuong Sreng, governor of Phom Penh, urged three people, believed to have travelled with Osmond Chihazirim Nzerem, the Nigerian patient, in the same car to Phnom Penh to report to local health authorities.

They should take a health check as they may have contracted the disease, he said, according to the Khmer Times.

The Nigerian man was caught on a security camera when arriving at a guesthouse in Phnom Penh at 5:20am on Saturday accompanied by an African man and an Asian woman, said Cambodian police.

He was caught at 5:30pm at Doeum Thkov market in Phom Penh and taken to the Khmer–Soviet Friendship Hospital for treatment and isolation, said the report.

The Thai Department of Disease Control on Sunday began a joint epidemiologic investigation with its Cambodian counterparts, tracking more possible contacts of the man, said a public health source.

As a precautionary measure, disease control and immigration checkpoints nationwide have been instructed to scale up screening for monkeypox, particularly among visitors coming from countries with a high risk of the disease, said Anutin.

However, no travel restrictions are being considered for the time being, he said.

The minister urged the public to not panic about the possible spread of monkeypox in Thailand, saying the same prevention measures used in preventing COVID-19 are sufficient for fending off monkeypox.

“Wearing a face mask, washing hands frequently and practising social distancing help protect against both diseases at the same time,” he said.

In most cases, patients fully recover from monkeypox after being treated, he said, adding that negative pressure rooms aren’t necessary.

Before the Nigerian man was confirmed to be Thailand’s first monkeypox case, a total of 18 foreign visitors to Thailand who had been admitted to private hospitals for treatment were treated as suspected cases of monkeypox infection, said Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS).

In another development, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt said City Hall will meet today to discuss raising preventive measures against monkeypox and scaling up surveillance in the capital.

Certain areas in the city may require special attention and extra disease surveillance measures, he said, apparently referring to communities of foreign visitors coming from countries with high risk of monkeypox.

Anan Jongkaewwattana, a virologist with the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec), meanwhile, warned that using a condom while having sex is not sufficient protection against monkeypox.

Although HIV transmissions and monkeypox share some similarities, using a condom alone won’t be enough to protect against monkeypox as does it in protecting against HIV, he said.

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Kurt | 26 July 2022 - 10:47:49

Miracles are not out of the world yet. A foreigner gets monkeypox in Thailand from 'nobody'. Sounds a bit as a woman becomes pregnant without fertilization. Well, finally we read it, protected/unprotected sex make no difference in catching te pox. It's the skin contact alone already that can infect. No face masks needed.  :-).  Just gloves and 'monk life style'.

Kurt | 26 July 2022 - 10:14:22

We read in BP, general Prayut stated that Thailand not want the Nigerian man back from Cambodia. Of course not. They want to prevent that Nigerian man open his books to press, telling were he probably got infected and how much unprotected sex ( mentioned by BP) he had on Phuket. If you not want to panic, 'play' ostrich and prevent fact revealing. Specially with the BIE Expo comm visit now.


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