Health DG: No monkeypox outbreak in Malaysia

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

KUCHING, May 23: The Health Ministry has rubbished reports of a monkeypox outbreak in the country.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in response to rumours that have gone viral on social media claiming there were incidents of monkeypox in Johor and Kuala Lumpur, said no cases have been detected in the country, thus far.

This despite one instance of the disease reported in Singapore on May 9.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the case involved a Nigerian citizen who was in the island republic on April 28 to attend a workshop. It is the first reported case in Asia.

“The Singaporean health ministry has taken preventive measures to minimise the spread of the disease, including putting 23 people who were believed to have had close contact with the infected patient under quarantine and monitoring their condition.

“The Singapore Health Ministry also reported that no Malaysians had contact with the monkeypox patient in Singapore,” he said in a statement today.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the Health Ministry was monitoring the situation through the latest reports from WHO while emphasising on reports of suspected monkeypox cases in Malaysia.

The ministry also advised tourists heading to central and west African countries to take precautionary measures such as maintaining strict hygiene practices, avoid touching infected wounds of infected humans or animals, including objects that might be contaminated by the disease.

Those travelling to the said countries are also advised to avoid contact with wild animals or eating bush meat.

Tourists arriving from countries with cases of monkeypox and getting infected with the disease within three weeks must seek immediate treatment and report their travel itinerary.

“The Health Ministry reminds the people not to spread unverified information or fake news of the disease that could create public unrest.

“The ministry has also published a Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ) for public reference, which can be downloaded from its Facebook page,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

The monkeypox virus can be transmitted to humans via bites or direct contact with an infected animal’s open wounds or bodily fluids such as blood.

In humans, it can be spread through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluid as well as contaminated objects such as bedding and clothing items.

The virus incubation period is between six and 21 days and an infected person would start to show symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches and rash, which starts from the face before spreading to the hands, feet and other parts of the body.

There are no known treatments or vaccines for the disease and human-to-human transmission is possible but limited.

Monkeypox cases have been reported in tropical central and west African countries since 2005. These countries included Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gabon and South Sudan.

It is regarded as endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with over 1,000 suspected cases reported each year. Nigeria reported a big monkeypox epidemic between 2017 and 2018. — DayakDaily