Monkeypox cases in Singapore can recover at home except those with pets, other rules

Monkeypox was declared by WHO as a public health emergency of international concern on 23 July 2022. (PHOTOS: Getty Images)
Monkeypox was declared by WHO as a public health emergency of international concern on 23 July 2022. (PHOTOS: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — From next Monday (22 August), monkeypox cases in Singapore will be able to recover at home, if they are assessed to be clinically stable by a doctor and their place of residence is suitable for home recovery.

This includes not having any pets at home, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press statement on Friday. This comes as the first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox – between two men and their Italian greyhound living together in Paris – was reported last week in the medical journal The Lancet.

Currently, cases assessed by public hospitals to be clinically stable recover with telemedicine support at a monkeypox isolation facility, said MOH.

From Monday, such cases may recover at home with telemedicine support under the Home Recovery Programme (HRP), provided:

  • The case can self-isolate in a bedroom with an attached bathroom, and there is an additional bathroom for other household members’ use.

  • None of the other household members are pregnant, children aged below 12, seniors aged 80 and above, individuals who are undergoing dialysis, immunocompromised or on immunosuppressants, or individuals at higher risk of being infected, such as those with caregiving needs.

  • There are no pets at home. This is to avoid any animal-to-human transmission which may occur when an animal contracts monkeypox from an infected person and then spreads to other persons through bites, scratches, or through direct contact with skin, mucosa, blood, and bodily fluids.

Cases may continue to recover in the monkeypox isolation facility if their place of residence is not suitable for home recovery, MOH added.

Cases on HRP will receive regular telemedical consultations to assess their recovery and may be conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for further reviews if necessary.

They can also call a dedicated MOH hotline if they require any help during recovery.

In the event that cases experience any shortness of breath, chest pains, severe headaches, stiff neck, changes in mental state, such as in mood or behaviour, or unusual symptoms with their nerves, such as numbness, weakness, changes in speech or vision, abnormal movement of the arms or legs, they should call 995 immediately and inform the operator that they are monkeypox patients.

At the end of the isolation period, cases will be conveyed to NCID to undergo a discharge review.

If they are medically assessed to have fully recovered, they will be able to exit isolation. If they have not recovered, they will remain isolated until the next appointed discharge review, MOH said.

In line with the shift to home recovery, suspect monkeypox cases who are assessed to be clinically well will not have to isolate in the hospital while awaiting their test results.

They may instead isolate themselves at home if they are able to do so, while those who are unable to do so will be isolated at an isolation facility while awaiting their test results.

Confirmed monkeypox cases assessed to be at higher risk of complications as well as suspect cases who are assessed to require admission for clinical care will continue to be managed in hospitals.

Across the board, all confirmed cases will be issued with an isolation order and are required under the Infectious Diseases Act to remain isolated until they are medically assessed to be non-infectious.

"Local and international data continues to show that monkeypox is typically a mild and self-limiting illness where the majority of patients recover within two to four weeks without requiring hospitalisation.

As the transmission of monkeypox requires close physical or prolonged contact, including face-to-face and skin-to-skin contact such as sexual contact, the risk to the general public remains low," said MOH, adding that it will continue to monitor the situation closely.

To date, Singapore has recorded 15 cases of monkeypox, all men, linked to the global outbreak.

More than 35,000 cases in 92 countries and 12 deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization. Almost all new cases are being reported from Europe and the Americas.

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