Monkeypox: Monitor, report via MySejahtera if symptoms occur

PETALING JAYA: All travellers coming from countries reporting monkeypox cases must complete a card in the MySejahtera app and will receive pop-up messages daily, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister added in a statement on Monday (July 25) that the pop-up message will remind them to monitor themselves for symptoms of monkeypox and their general health.

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He said that such travellers are advised to monitor their health for a 21-day period following their arrival in Malaysia.

The symptoms of monkeypox include fever, fatigue, headache, a maculapapular rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the palms and soles followed by other body parts, weak limbs, back pain or joint pain, muscle cramps and and swollen lymph nodes.

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“From May 1 until July 23, 2022, a total of 531,630 recorded travellers arrived from countries that reported cases of monkeypox and the MySejahtera application had issued a MonkeypoxHealth Alert to these travellers,” he said.

Khairy urged individuals with symptoms of monkeypox to immediately go to a health facility for examination and further treatment.

ALSO READ: MySejahtera app rolls out health records feature

“Avoid contact with other people to avoid the spread of infection," said Khairy.

He added that operators of premises that provide services that involve skin contact with customers such as spas, massages outlets and other risky activities are requested to always practise personal and environmental hygiene.

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"Ensure that all customers are healthy, do not experience symptoms of monkeypox and do not have maculopapular rashes," said Khairy.

“If there is a client who has these symptoms, advise him to seek treatment immediately and employees with symptoms are advised not to attend work and immediately get a health examination," he added.

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Khairy said that the Health Ministry always cooperates with government and non-government agencies including private hospitals and clinics in the monitoring and detection of monkeypox cases in addition to continuing advocacy activities to the public.

Meanwhile, Khairy said the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee held a second meeting on July 21 to discuss the situation of themonkeypox infection worldwide.

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He said that the results of the discussion were presented to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General.

The current monkeypox infection is now a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

ALSO READ: Experts: Monkeypox not as contagious as Covid-19

This decision was made based on the sudden increase in the number of cases reported by non-monkeypox endemic countries as well as the evidence and scientific data related to this infection.

“The outbreak has met three PHEIC criteria, namely the impact of the event on public health, unforeseen events and the risk of cross-border transmission,” he explained.

ALSO READ: Malaysian man confirmed as Singapore's first local monkeypox case

On June 17, a total of 2,103 cases of monkeypox were reported in 42 countries with one death.

In less than two months, the number of cases has increased to 16,836 cases with five deaths and involving 74 countries on July 22.

ALSO READ: Monkeypox timeline: From beginnings in Africa to global spread

The fatality rate of monkeypox cases is 0.03%.

Monkeypox cases were first reported by the WHO on May 15, 2022 and occurred in several countries that are not endemic to this disease.

Khairy said based on the report of the Second Meeting of the International Health Regulation (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the Multi-Country Outbreak of Monkeypox published by the WHO on July 23, 2022, transmission of the monkeypox virus was currently reported to occur among men who have sex with men (MSM) or individuals at high risk of infection such as sex workers and transgender people.

“However, this disease is not a disease for this group exclusively because it can also infect family members through contact," said Khairy.

He added that the Health Ministry has so far increased surveillance and advocacy on monkeypox following the WHO report on the incidence of cases in countries where the disease is not endemic in early May 2022.

“The Health Ministry informed the government and private health facilities of the need to notify suspected and confirmed cases immediately to ensure control and prevention measures can be taken, including identifying close contacts of cases," said Khairy.

He said that sentinel surveillance has been established at several private and government clinics to monitor the incidence of skin rashes or lesions.

“We have increased the capacity of laboratories that can carry out monkeypox virus detection tests, namely two laboratories added to 12 laboratories (eight government laboratories and four private laboratories)," said Khairy.

“We have also enhanced surveillance at the country's international gateways in collaboration with the Immigration Department, airlines and related agencies including Malaysian Airlines Holding Berhad," he added.

He said that the Health Ministry has also been cooperating with other ministries and agencies such as the National Security Council and Foreign Ministry.

Khairy also said that his ministry is also cooperating with the Home Ministry, Tourism Ministry, Transport Ministry, Higher Education Ministry, non-governmental organisations and others who are related.

Following the PHEIC announcement made by the WHO, Khairy said the Health Ministry reminded all health facilities to be aware of the current monkeypox situation and increase case detection among patients at risk.

“As of July 23 a total of nine cases of suspected monkeypox have been notified to the ministry and all cases have been confirmed negative for monkeypox,” he said.

The monkeypox virus can be spread through direct contact with a rash or lesion that occurs on the skin, whether it is a new lesion or has become a scab, or fluid from the lesion.

Virus transmission can also occur through direct contact with an infected animal, either by being bitten or scratched by the animal involved, or by eating or using the products of the animal in question.

Contact with equipment contaminated with skin lesions or fluids can also cause infection.

A case of monkeypox can transmit the infection to other individuals within a day before the occurrence of lesions on the skin, up to 21 days from the onset of symptoms or until the lesions on the skin become scabs and the patient no longer has symptoms.

Monkeypox infection can recover without any treatment and the treatment given is to treat the symptoms experienced by the patient.

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