MANILA: The Philippines has recorded its first case of monkeypox in a citizen who returned from abroad, the Department of Health said on Friday.
The report from the Southeast Asian nation comes a week after the WHO said the rapidly spreading outbreak represents a global health emergency — the organization’s highest level of alert.
For decades monkeypox has been a globally neglected public health problem.
The virus has been present in parts of Africa, but cases began to be reported worldwide since May. So far this year, there have been over 18,000 infections recorded in more than 78 countries.
The first known case in the Philippines is a 31-year-old Filipino national who returned from a country where the disease is not endemic, Department of Health Undersecretary Beverly Ho told reporters.
“The patient was tested and confirmed yesterday,” she said, declining to give more details. “All we can let you know now is the case is recovering well.”
Health authorities have identified 10 close contacts of the person and put them in quarantine.
“No symptoms for the current close contacts,” Ho said. “They’re being observed.”
Department of Health officer in charge Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters the country was prepared to contain the disease from spreading.
Philippine health workers, too, are not raising alarm yet over the emergence of the disease in the country.
Public health expert Dr. Tony Leachon told Arab News that while Filipinos have to be careful, there was no need to panic as it was still an outbreak that could be controlled, and with the mode of transmission different from that of the coronavirus which wreaked havoc in the country for two years.
“I don’t think Filipinos should be worried because the mode of transmission is quite different from COVID. The mode of transmission is basically through close, intimate physical contact,” he said. “But still, we need to be careful because this will be the first time that this particular viral illness came from a non-endemic area.”
The monkeypox virus is transmitted from infected animals to humans through indirect or direct contact. Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with infectious skin or lesions, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin, and respiratory droplets.
According to WHO data, in the current outbreak countries and among the reported monkeypox cases, transmission appears to be occurring primarily through close physical contact.
Transmission can also occur from materials such as bedding, clothing and other items that have infected skin particles.