Health officials test 19 for monkeypox after contact with fugitive

PHOTO: Health officials test 19 people for monkeypox after coming in contact with infected Nigerian fugitive. (via Khmer Times)

After a Nigerian man fled Thailand upon being diagnosed with monkeypox and was subsequently captured in Cambodia, authorities have been tracking down anyone in contact with him to test them for the disease. Health officials have identified 19 high-risk people who came in close contact with the man and have now tested all of them for monkeypox.

Results are still pending, according to the Phuket Provincial Health chief, but specimens have been sent to the lab for testing. They expect all 19 pending specimens to have results within three days, but they have so far received two tests back with a negative diagnosis.

All 19 people have been placed in isolation under the care and monitoring of health officials. They will be checked each week for three weeks after which they will be retested.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian man who fled Thailand, believed to have swam across the border into Cambodia, will remain in the hospital in Cambodia for treatment and may face punishment for illegally entering the country, according to the assistant commissioner of the Cambodian police, who noted that this is standard international practice.

While Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul has urged people not to panic, saying that he doesn’t think tighter restrictions are necessary, Thailand has now upgraded monkeypox to a national alert level, following the World Health Organisation’s decision to elevate the spreading disease to its highest level of Global Health Emergency.

The minister said that travellers from high-risk countries do not need to be blocked, but that screening and monitoring regulations similar to what was used for Covid-19 should be put in place. Anutin said that Thailand is fully prepared for an outbreak, with the Department of Disease Control upgrading emergency facilities and with medical locations at the ready.

Public health officials also reassure the people of Thailand that monkeypox is not the same as Covid, being far less transmittable, and suggested that worried people need only adhere to the safety measures already in place.

While health officials wait for the final test results for the remaining 17 high-risk people, the provincial health chief of Sa Kaeo, the border province where the Nigerian man crossed into Cambodia, confirmed that they had not identified any high-risk people that may have interacted with the man as he fled the country through their province.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Phuket News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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