Monkeypox unlikely to be a pandemic, but cases could be detected in Singapore in coming weeks, says health minister

Mock-up vials labeled "Monkeypox vaccine" and medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken from Reuters.

SINGAPORE, May 28, (The Straits Times/ANN): Monkeypox is very unlikely to be a pandemic like Covid-19, but Singapore should not be surprised if the virus is detected here, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Saturday

In a Facebook post, he said: "In the coming weeks, we should not be surprised if (monkeypox) is detected in Singapore, as our people travel widely and we are a commercial and international hub.

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

Monkeypox is an infectious disease usually transmitted to humans by animals, and it has been on the rise globally.

Ong noted how monkeypox has generated much interest, including at the World Health Assembly that he recently attended.

He said 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.

Clusters of cases have emerged in Europe and North America in recent weeks, which is considered unusual as monkeypox is not often seen outside western and central Africa.

In his post, Ong reassured the public that monkeypox is unlikely to be a pandemic like Covid-19, as it is transmitted mostly by close physical contact and not airborne like the coronavirus.

"For example, if you are very close to someone with rash lesions due to monkeypox, you can be infected," he said, elaborating on the incubation period and typical symptoms of the disease.

The minister advised that anyone with a new unexplained rash should see a doctor immediately to be examined, even if they have not travelled recently, so they can be diagnosed and receive treatment early.

"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," he said.

"As for the general public, avoid close contact with individuals who are unwell with fever or have a pox-like rash. It is always good to maintain high standards of personal hygiene at all times, including washing of hands with soap before touching your face." - The Straits Times/ANN

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