Dr Sim: No monkeypox cases yet in Sarawak, but border surveillance must be tightened

An infographic by MOH on monkeypox and its symptoms.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 7: Surveillance at Sarawak’s borders and point-of-entries including airports must be enhanced to guard against the spread of monkeypox into the State, which has yet to record any cases thus far.

With borders fully reopened and a global outbreak of another infectious disease, Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian emphasised that control at the State’s borders needs to be intensified to ensure people coming in are not infected with monkeypox.

“We have noticed a worldwide phenomenon called monkeypox – a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox. This is another example of a virus spreading from animals to humans. In fact, it has been around for quite some time, but as of May 25, Sarawak has recorded no monkeypox cases so far.

“So we have to make sure our borders are guarded and people coming in don’t have any symptoms of monkeypox,” he said in a TikTok video shared on his social media page yesterday (June 6).

At the same time, the Deputy Premier added that Sarawak also needs to monitor its healthcare facilities closely to detect people showing any monkeypox symptoms.

“Those who are experiencing symptoms should inform us (health authorities) immediately so that we can put our measures into the next level of practice,” he advised.

According to the Ministry of Health, monkeypox, a disease caused by the orthopox virus, is a viral zoonotic disease which can spread from animals to humans and also between people.

Since May 13 and as of June 1, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that more than 550 monkeypox cases have been identified in at least 30 countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the United States.

Symptoms of monkeypox typically include fever, intense headache, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and skin rash or lesion which is concentrated on the face and palms of hands and soles of feet, which can also sometimes spread to other body parts. It produces symptoms similar to smallpox, but milder.

The time from infection to the onset of the symptoms, which is referred to as the incubation period, can range from five to 21 days. The illness typically resolves within two to four weeks.

Transmission of the monkeypox virus among humans is limited, but it can happen through skin contact, air droplets, bodily fluids, and virus-contaminated objects. — DayakDaily