July 25, 2022

Singapore reports 7th and 8th cases of monkeypox

By brit

SINGAPORE – Two more cases of monkeypox were reported on Sunday (July 24), with one a 46-year-old man from Estonia and the other a 26-year-old Singaporean man.

This brings the total number of cases detected here to eight, comprising four local and four imported cases. None have been linked to one another.

In updates on monkeypox on its website, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the Estonian man came to Singapore from London on July 21. He tested positive for monkeypox on Sunday, after he developed rashes in the groin area and had fever and swollen lymph nodes.

The Singaporean man developed rashes in the groin area as well as other parts of his body, and also tested positive on Sunday. Both of them were taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and are in stable condition.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday declared monkeypox a global health emergency, with more than 16,000 cases confirmed in 70 countries and territories worldwide. 

It is the strongest call to action that the global organisation can make, signalling a new sense of urgency and scale of a disease that has previously been primarily found in western and central Africa. Covid-19 was given the same label back in 2020.

In a statement to The Straits Times on whether Singapore will change domestic or border restrictions following WHO’s decision, MOH said the authorities have already put in place the majority of WHO-recommended monkeypox measures since May.

These include protocols for isolating confirmed cases and quarantining close contacts for 21 days from the date of exposure. Lower-risk contacts are also put on phone surveillance for 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus.

MOH said the healthcare system has the expertise and capability to effectively test, diagnose and treat monkeypox infections. It has been engaging those who are more at risk, which studies have shown are mostly men who have sex with men.

Professor Roy Chan, founder and president of non-profit organisation Action for Aids, said it is important to raise awareness of the infection in the gay and bisexual community without moral judgment, so that those who are infected feel safe to seek treatment when symptoms surface. 

He said: “We don’t want to stigmatise the disease, stigmatise the people who are potentially infected. Otherwise, it is driven underground and that is where the threat lies.”

Comparing the wave of monkeypox infections with the Aids epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, he said the two diseases, while affecting the same community, have notable differences.

Prof Chan said: “HIV, in the early days, we didn’t know what it was until a few years later.”

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes Aids, or the acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

“Monkeypox, we know exactly what it is. There was also no treatment for HIV and it was almost universally fatal. It had a much longer period of (being) asymptomatic when its spread was possible, unlike monkeypox, which is short and clears on its own,” he said.