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Phuket Opinion: Chasing the excuse

PHUKET: Of all people Nigerian national Osmond Chihazirim Nzere, 27, branded as the first person in Thailand to be confirmed infected with monkeypox, deserves at least a modicum of sympathy, because one thing is for sure ‒ he most certainly is not the first person in Thailand to have been infected with monkeypox.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 24 July 2022, 09:00AM

Nigerian national Osmond Chihazirim Nzere, 27, signals to reporters after his arrest in Cambodia. Screenshot: Eakkapop Thongtub / Supplied

Nigerian national Osmond Chihazirim Nzere, 27, signals to reporters after his arrest in Cambodia. Screenshot: Eakkapop Thongtub / Supplied

After fleeing Phuket on Tuesday (July 19), Mr Nzere was arrested in Phnom Penh last night. The manhunt for him began after he failed to present himself at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town for treatment of what was already believed to be monkeypox, but yet to be doubly confirmed by Ministry of Public Health laboratories in Bangkok.

Mr Nzere first presented himself at Bangkok Hospital Phuket on July 16, and was appropriately treated as an outpatient and told to self-quarantine at his condo until he recovers to help prevent spreading the disease. 

He told doctors that he first began experiencing symptoms on July 9, and had since developed a fever, a cough, a sore throat, itchiness, red bumps and pustules, starting from the genitals and spreading to face, torso and arms. All that was corroborated in the Patient Investigation Report conducted by the Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO).

However, by that time it was obvious he already was not the first person in the country to have contracted the disease, simply because he had been in Thailand since Oct 21 last year. Mr Nzere obviously contracted monkeypox while in Thailand. What no one knows is precisely when and where.

It is well documented that the incubation period for monkeypox ‒ that is, from infection to the onset of symptoms ‒ is usually from six to 13 days, but can range from five to 21 days. The PPHO Patient Investigation Report itself notes that Mr Nzere was in Phuket, and often visiting Patong, during the relevant period for him to become infected.

The PPHO report also noted that contact tracing had identified at least 18 high-risk contacts at risk of infection. More of note, and as already well commented on by the public, is that the contact tracing included investigating five entertainment venues in Patong. Yet still officials brand Mr Nzere as the first monkeypox infection in the country.

At the time of writing this article it had yet to be confirmed whether Cambodian authorities were to deport Mr Nzere back to Thailand, where he is wanted by the Immigration Bureau for overstaying his visa. In effect, if he is handed over to Thai authorities, it would be for nothing more than Immigration fining him 20,000 and deporting him again.

Regardless, what we all should be thanking Mr Nzere for is that in one fell swoop he has proved how embarrassingly pointless the Immigration 90-day reporting requirement for foreigners is.

Meanwhile, how local officials are handling the issue is not helping. It is good to see them sending out the message to the Thai public how this strain of monkeypox that has reached our shores is not life threatening and is usually overcome within two to four weeks without hospitalisation, but claiming that there are no other cases of monkeypox on the island, as reported yesterday, deserves derision.

What they are struggling to communicate is that this strain of monkeypox is just another nasty infection people can do without. People should take precautions to avoid becoming infected, as it does spread through contact and it does not discriminate who it infects.

The last thing we want is monkeypox making it through to families, and worse, to children, through whom it will be spread through schools. Let’s be prudent, and spare children from one more horrible childhood infection that they do not need to suffer.

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Kurt | 25 July 2022 - 10:35:10

@JohnC,  the Thai thinking "This is the way we are doing it", will never catch up with the rest of the world that lives already in 21st century. It's a non-thinking logic that not fits in with 'catching up'.
Partly, it has it's charme, as long you don't get strangled by their funny bureaucracy, matters-hiding and corruption.

Kurt | 25 July 2022 - 08:11:46

What I still miss is that PPHO is not coming out with info who did infect Mr Nzere with monkeypox. We red detailed  revealed info about his sexual behavior, but than it stops. There must be monkeypox cases on Phuket. Seems officialdom likes to hide that. Among the 142 checked contacts must be at least 1 infected who did give him a 'present'. 

christysweet | 24 July 2022 - 22:44:12

Yes, the tiresome sex offender styled 90 day registry is tiresome but I don't see how this chap who overstayed his visa  makes that evident? 

DeKaaskopp | 24 July 2022 - 09:42:10

He deserves at least a modicum of sympathy ?  555    I think the PN and whoever wrote that article is completely out of his mind !   The only thing that dodgy Nigerian deserves is getting deported asap.

JohnC | 24 July 2022 - 09:10:57

Yes I agree. The 90 day reporting is the single most unnecessary waste of time a long staying expat married to a local has to continually do for no good purpose. The bureaucracy and red tape here is still so last century. Please catch up with the rest of the world.


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