State Health Department on alert over Singapore’s monkeypox outbreak

Dr Sim (third right) and Azizi (on Dr Sim's right) pose for a photo opt with the 2,000 bubur lambuk that was later given out to the public at the Stutong Community Market Ramadan Bazaar.

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KUCHING, May 12: The Sarawak government through the Health Department will monitor arrivals from Singapore passing through major ports in the state to prevent the monkeypox disease from entering the state following the outbreak in Singapore several days ago.

According to Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, the health authorities all over the country are on alert at all major ports in the country, especially those dealing with people coming in from Singapore.

He is also confident that the Singapore government and its authorities are practicing stringent regulations in dealing with the monkeypox outbreak.

“The Health Department always has health screenings at all major ports here. When a disease outbreak like this happens, they probably have people on alert and looking out for those showing symptoms. Among the measures are self-reporting and the need to quarantine the patients showing symptoms of the disease.

“I am sure the Singapore government is very strict, and will not just release those with symptoms of the disease, and will stop them from leaving the country first,” Dr Sim told reporters after giving out bubur lambuk to the public at the Stutong Community Market Ramadan Bazaar here this afternoon.

Dr Sim (second left) gives a container of bubur lambuk to a member of the public as Azizi (left) and others look on.

Singaporean authorities confirmed the monkeypox after a Nigerian who arrived on the island state on April 28 tested positive for the virus on May 8. This was the first case of monkeypox infection in Singapore.

Human-to-human transmission can happen from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids.

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, aches, swollen lymph nodes and skin rash. It can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or even death in some cases.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement it conducted contact tracing and identified 23 people who came into close contact with the patient.

They included 18 people who attended the same workshop as the patient, one staff member of the workshop venue and four hotel employees.

The Singapore authorities assured that the disease is easy to treat as a patient would usually recover within two to three weeks upon treatment.

Meanwhile, Dr Sim advised the public here to also be alert, not just on current outbreaks but also be aware of the possibilities of zoonosis or animal to humans diseases.

“It’s so important for us humans to respect the animals. You can see even Singapore with their excellent healthcare facilities still having this (monkeypox) outbreak. So we must be on constant alert.

“Likewise, (cases of diseases) jumping from animals to humans a lot of time are very difficult to control because we take for granted that the diseases only affects the animals and we didn’t develop medicines for the diseases.

“One of the classical example is HIV, and you see it took 30-40 years to develop something for HIV and it cost a lot of money,” said Dr Sim.

Earlier, Dr Sim distributed some 2,000 containers of bubur lambuk at the Stutong Community Market Ramadan Bazaar, a community event organised by the councilors of Kuching City South Council (MBKS) annually.

Dr Sim thanked MBKS councilor Azizi Morni for leading this community event every year. — DayakDaily