Monkeypox: Sarawakians urged to be cautious after WHO triggers highest alert

Dr Sim Kui Hian (File Photo).

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KUCHING, July 25: Sarawakians are being advised to be cautious following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration that monkeypox has become a global emergency.

According to a Facebook post by Sarawak Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, there have been no monkeypox cases reported in Malaysia thus far, but it is only a matter of time, given the opening of the country’s borders and the exponential increase in travel.

“WHO has declared monkeypox the third global emergency, along with polio and Covid-19.

“As a result, we need everyone to play their part and cooperate with the Sarawak Health Department,” he said.

Dr Sim, who is also the Minister for Public Health, Housing, and Local Government, advised anyone experiencing symptoms of monkeypox to seek treatment and confirm the diagnosis with a medical practitioner.

In addition, he suggested practising self-quarantine and advising close contacts to self-isolate at home, monitor their symptoms for 21 days, and practise good hand hygiene.

On July 23, 2022, WHO declared the global monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MOH) stated that the government is improving surveillance at the country’s international gateway following WHO’s declaration of monkeypox as a public global health emergency.

Based on a statement issued by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today, the government is working with the Malaysian Immigration Department (JIM), airlines, and related agencies such as Malaysian Airlines Holding Bhd (MAHB), as well as several ministries and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to combat the infection.

He noted that as of July 23, the MySejahtera application had issued a Monkeypox Health Alert to 531,630 recorded travellers arriving from the country reporting cases of the infection.

“All non-citizen travellers must fill in a traveller’s card in the MySejahtera application, and travellers arriving from countries reporting monkeypox will receive a ‘pop-up’ health message every day through MySejahtera to remind them to monitor infection symptoms and their health status.

“Travellers arriving from the countries concerned are advised to monitor their health status every day, including symptoms of monkeypox infection, for 21 days from the date of arrival in Malaysia.

“Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, fatigue, headache, maculopapular rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the palms and soles of the feet followed by other parts of the body, fatigue, pain in the back or joints, muscle spasms, and swollen lymph glands,” he added.

Khairy said that as of July 23, nine suspected monkeypox cases reported to MOH had been confirmed negative.

In the meantime, WHO mentioned that most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary healthcare facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have had sexual intercourse with men. — DayakDaily