Singapore Braces For Monkeypox Outbreak In Coming Weeks

Ong Ye Kung notes that Singapore is a commercial and international hub, but the government has put in place public health measures to prepare for monkeypox cases.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 – The Singaporean government expects to detect monkeypox in Singapore in the coming weeks, as virus cases exceed 200 globally in an outbreak across non-endemic countries.

Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung stated that Singapore is prepared to encounter monkeypox cases, with sufficient public health measures in place.

“In the coming weeks, we should not be surprised if it is detected in Singapore, as our people travel widely and we are a commercial and international hub,” Ong stated in a Facebook post on May 28. 

“Thankfully we have in place the necessary protocols and public health measures, triggered by an imported case in 2019.”

Ong highlighted that monkeypox virus is no longer enclosed to certain endemic areas in the Africa region, but has started spreading across the world. 

“It has generated much interest, including at the World Health Assembly that I recently attended, as the disease is no longer a rare disease confined to certain places in Africa, but is being passed from humans to other humans in many parts of the world.”

“In other words, the cat is out of the bag.”

Nevertheless, Ong assured that unlike Covid-19, monkeypox disease would not spread as quickly as the virus is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, like skin lesions.

“Monkeypox is very unlikely to be a pandemic like Covid-19. It is transmitted mostly by close physical contact, and not airborne like Covid-19, which transmits more quickly and widely.

“For example, if you are very close to someone with rash lesions due to monkeypox, you can be infected.”

Ong, who noted the virus’ incubation period of between one and three weeks, listed fever and chills, headache and muscle ache, and swollen lymph nodes as some of the common symptoms of monkeypox.

“The typical monkeypox rash lesions then develop around the face or mouth or genital areas, before the rash spreads all over the body.

“It may look like a common chickenpox rash to the layperson and therefore review by a doctor is important. It can cause severe illness and deaths in a small percentage of patients.”

He advised the public to seek medical assistance if they experience any “unexplained” rashes, even if they did not have any travel history. 

Ong said early detection would help to begin the treatment faster.

“Most often it is due to another common disease like chickenpox, but if you have monkeypox, then you can receive appropriate care and prevent spread to people around you.”

Ong urged people to maintain high standards of personal hygiene, including washing their hands with soap before touching their face.

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