Monkeypox: most of WHO's recommendations already in place in Singapore, says MOH

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 — Health authorities in Singapore said that most of the temporary recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in declaring monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday (23 July) are already in place since May this year.

In a media reply to Yahoo News Singapore on Sunday evening, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the city-state's healthcare system has the expertise and capability to effectively test, diagnose and treat monkeypox infections.

It added that it has been regularly updating medical practitioners and healthcare institutions on the monkeypox situation, providing guidance on protocols for identifying suspect cases as well as management of confirmed cases.

As of Sunday, Singapore has reported eight monkeypox cases. Over 16,000 cases have been detected in more than 75 countries, up from about 3,000 in end-June, prompting WHO's issuing of its highest level of alert on Saturday.

No large-scale social or movement restrictions in Singapore

There is currently no large-scale social or movement restrictions such as what Singapore enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years.

MOH said that monkeypox cases are isolated, while close contacts are quarantined and monitored for up to 21 days from the last date of exposure - the maximum incubation period - to reduce spread of the disease.

Lower risk contacts are also placed on phone surveillance for 21 days from their last exposure.

"Education and outreach to at-risk groups are also important in reducing spread," MOH said in its reply.

"In line with the WHO’s recommendations, efforts have also been taken to reach out to the at-risk population - for example, persons engaging in high risk sexual activities - through healthcare and community partners to raise awareness of monkeypox virus transmission and the precautionary measures to reduce the risk of onward transmission."

How to reduce risk of monkeypox transmission

The ministry said that exercising personal responsibility by avoiding high risk activities, especially when symptomatic, and practising good personal hygiene remain effective in reducing the risk of monkeypox transmission.

It has advised returning travellers, especially from areas affected by monkeypox, to seek immediate medical attention if they develop any symptoms - such as sudden onset of high fever, swollen lymph nodes and rash - within three weeks of their return. These travellers should inform their doctor of their recent travel/risk history.

"Anyone who suspects that they may be at risk and are symptomatic should also seek medical treatment immediately," MOH said.

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