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Belgian man suspected of being infected with monkeypox allegedly flees Thailand



On Thursday, Thailand recorded its second case of monkeypox. In the second case, a Thai man in Bangkok suspects he caught the virus from a Belgian man who he had close relations with. However, the Ministry of Health suspects the Belgian man has already fled Thailand.

A total of 18 people in contact with the Thai man all tested negative for the monkeypox virus. However, the Thai man says he suspects that a Belgian man he had sex with is the source of his infection. Officials have tried to track down the Belgian man to test him for the virus, but they can’t find him. He is suspected to have left the country already, said the Director-General of the Department of Disease Control Dr Opas Karnkawinpong.

Thailand’s first case of monkeypox, recorded in a 27 year old Nigerian man in Phuket on July 18, also fled Thailand and was arrested in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 23. Health officials tested 50 at-risk people who were in contact with the man, who all tested negative for the virus.

“Most cases of monkeypox found in Asia so far were found in men who had a history of having close relations with foreign men,” said Dr Opas.

Dr Opas wants to reassure the public not to be fearful of catching the virus, which is only transmitted through very close contact. Sex is a certain risk factor, said the doctor. The Department of Disease Control suggests avoiding monkeypox by not having sexual relations with strangers.

Due to monkeypox’s low transmissibility rate, only certain target groups – such as high-risk groups and frontline healthcare workers – need to be vaccinated against the virus, not all Thai people, said Dr Opas. The Ministry of Public Health announced that Thailand will receive 1000 doses of the smallpox vaccine from America this month, which are effective against monkeypox.

If Thailand did face a monkeypox outbreak and didn’t have enough imported vaccines, Thailand’s population can be vaccinated using Thailand’s 40 year old stock of smallpox vaccines, which are still safe to use and 85% effective against preventing monkeypox, according to Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences.



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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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