“Monkeypox: MOH should be proactive and take precautionary measures now!”

THE Health Ministry (MOH) should come out with clear guidelines on the monkeypox disease to the public, including advisory for those intending to travel to destinations that are currently experiencing outbreaks to prevent the disease from spreading here.

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) held an emergency meeting into the alarming spread of the virus around the world and said that while majority of the infected patients had recovered without complications, we should still take it seriously.

As of Saturday, the WHO reported 92 confirmed monkeypox cases and 28 suspected ones as the mysterious illness spread in Australia, Canada, the US, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

More cases are, of course, likely to be reported as surveillance expands.

That is why proper guideline and recommendations must be issued by the MOH soon, including getting Malaysians who are planning to visit countries affected by the monkeypox outbreak to get vaccinated before leaving the country.

For now, WHO recommends the people to get the existing small pox vaccine or even chickenpox vaccine which is said to be 85% effective against the monkeypox.

At the same time, the Government should also look at ways to intensify control at the country’s borders, including monitoring the entry of individuals from countries affected by the outbreak.

The public should also be educated and given guideline on detecting monkeypox symptoms, and if needed, quarantine period to prevent local transmission.

Educate the public

Those who are experiencing symptoms after returning from the countries affected should be advised to get medical help fast. So far, the virus has not been reported in Malaysia but we have to be extra vigilant nonetheless.

From what we know, the virus originated in monkeys and spread to humans through contact via body fluids such as saliva, nasal mucus and phlegm.

It can cause symptoms including fever, aches and presents a distinctive bumpy rash.

While majority of infected patients had recovered without complications within two to four weeks, with low mortality rate at about one percent compared to chickenpox (3% to 6%), it should not be taken lightly.

That is why the Government must be pro-active in this matter. In order to instill public confidence and not cause panic, the people should be given all the necessary guidelines, advisory and recommendations so that they are better equipped and informed of the disease. – May 23, 2022


Dr Kelvin Yii is the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Science & Innovation and Bandar Kuching MP.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Photo credit: BBC

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