Risk of monkeypox spreading to Malaysia is low, says Health Ministry

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 14 May 2019

PETALING JAYA: The risk of monkeypox infection in Malaysia is low, but the government will remain vigilant, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

“The spread of the virus from human to human is quite low. It usually spreads from a (monkeypox) patient, who has had close contact with another person.

“The risk of Malaysia contracting monkeypox is quite low, but we are still vigilant,” he said during a press conference at the launch of the Halcyon radiotherapy machine at Beacon Hospital on Tuesday (May 14). 

Dr Lee's remarks came in the wake of a case in Singapore where Nigerian national was tested positive for the virus upon returning from a trip to Nigeria.

He said those coming into the country from Central or West Africa who have fever, skin rashes or any other symptoms similar to the monkeypox virus infection should to visit the nearest hospital to receive treatment.

On a separate matter, Dr Lee also said the Ministry would take action against any doctor who promoted alternatives to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

He said those who were against vaccinations had a democratic right to voice their concerns. However, he hoped they did not “convey a message that is wrong or confusing to the public”.

“We know there are those who advocate alternatives, which clearly do not work. There are also those who advocate homeopathy – the natural way.

“If there are doctors who are involved in such practices, we will take action against them.

“Those who promote alternative methods, we too will take action against them, because they are conducting a practice that will harm the health of a child,” he said.

Dr Lee added that those who chose not to be vaccinated had a right to do so, but the ministry would be looking for ways to increase  MMR coverage among the community.

He said that in order to enable a herd immunity, at least 95% of the community had to be vaccinated, but the country was still short. MMR coverage was only at 89% in 2017 and rose to 90% in 2018.

“The coverage is still insufficient to provide a herd immunity to the community, but we will increase our efforts to ensure that the coverage of MMR would be above 95%,” he said.

Dr Lee said the MMR vaccine was usually given to those who were nine months old.

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