The Philippines has recorded its first case of monkeypox, a Department of Health (DOH) official bared on Friday.
At a briefing in Malacañang, Health Undersecretary Dr. Beverly Ho said the patient is 31 years old. She declined to divulge more details about the patient, including the gender.
Ho said the patient arrived from abroad on July 19. She added that the patient had prior travel to countries with monkeypox cases, and was only tested for monkeypox on Thursday, July 28.
“The case has been discharged well and is undergoing strict isolation and monitoring at home,” Ho said, adding that the DOH has recorded 10 close contacts of the patient.
Ho said three of the 10 close contacts were in the same household as the patient. The close contacts have not manifested any symptoms yet, she said.
“No symptoms for the current close contacts, that’s why they’re all on quarantine, they’re being observed,” Ho said.
“All have been advised to quarantine and are being monitored by the Department,” she added.
“The DOH assures everyone that our public surveillance systems are able to detect and confirm monkeypox cases.”
Ho advised those with travel history in countries with confirmed monkeypox cases and are now experiencing symptoms to immediately seek medical attention.
At the same time, Ho said discussions with the United States government to secure vaccines for monkeypox are still ongoing.
“Well, now our discussions are ongoing. I think we have mentioned it in our previous press conferences, we are working with the US government to secure the vaccines,” Ho said.
“There is not a lot that is available in the market also, that it is only a select population group that will have to be vaccinated. Again, it is not like COVID that all of us need to be vaccinated,” she added.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, meanwhile, said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants to increase public awareness about monkeypox and the measures being taken by the government to prevent its spread.
“First of all, it’s only one case, number one. Number two, as you can see, it doesn’t affect the entire population. Number three, this is not like COVID that can be spread by air very easily and could possibly be fatal. This is not particularly fatal, but it is of concern,” Cruz-Angeles said.
“His primary concern was to get the information out so that people will be aware, but also to be aware that the systems of the DOH (Department of Health) are in place and that this is not the same as COVID,” she added.
The DOH said monkeypox is a virus transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or contaminated materials.
A viral infection resembling smallpox and first detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.
The first symptoms can include a fever, headaches, sharp muscle pains, fatigue, a rash, as well as swollen and painful lymph nodes, according to an Agence France-Presse explainer.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on July 23 declared the monkeypox outbreak — which has affected nearly 16,000 people in 72 countries, according to a tally by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — to be a global health emergency, the highest alarm it can sound.
Ninety-five percent of cases have been transmitted through sexual activity, according to a study of 528 people in 16 countries published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Overall, 98% of infected people were gay or bisexual men, and around a third were known to have visited sex-on-site venues such as sex parties or saunas within the previous month.