Nigerian monkeypox fugitive arrested in Cambodia

PHOTO: NIgerian man with monkeypox arrested in Cambodia. (via Phuket News)

The first monkeypox case in Thailand has now become the first monkeypox case in Cambodia. A Nigerian man on the run after disappearing on Tuesday when diagnosed with monkeypox in Phuket has been apprehended in Cambodia. The deputy governor of Phnom Penh confirmed that 27 year old Osmond Chihazirim Nzere was arrested yesterday in the Cambodian capital city.

The man was spotted in a market in Phnom Penh and was taken into custody before being turned over to the Ministry of Health in Cambodia. Officials immediately set to work to contact trace the Nigerian man’s movements and who he interacted with to try to avoid a monkeypox outbreak.

Department of Disease Control Director-General Dr Opas Karnkawinpong reported that authorities had tracked the fugitive monkeypox victim’s cell phone signal to the border at Sa Kaeo and believe he then entered the river near the Cambodian border town of Ban Khlong Luek, swimming into the country. They had thought he was heading towards Sihanoukville, before finding him in Phnom Penh instead, an area with a sizable Nigerian expat population.

The man had tested positive for monkeypox on July 18 after being examined at a private hospital on July 16, where they had found a rash and lesions on his genitals, body, and face, as well as coughing, and sore throat, runny nose, and a fever. When officials went to pick him up at his condo after being diagnosed, he was gone.

He had checked into a hotel, and then moved to a second hotel the next day before CCTV footage spotted him handing in his keys at reception and getting into a white car after calling the hospital and saying he was coming in. Authorities now say he had arranged help from other people, who could be on the hook for aiding and abetting the fleeing Nigerian man.

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said that back in Thailand, the DDC had already tracked down every known person who had come into contact with the man as he fled Phuket and made it to the Sa Kaeo border. After testing two people in close contact with the man and a taxi driver, he assured the public no additional infections were found.

“As of now, no new monkeypox cases have not been reported. People have no need to worry as every member of the at-risk group is being closely monitored by the department.”

The source of the Nigerian man’s monkeypox has been a point of confusion with conflicting reports of if he had just travelled from Nigeria and brought it with him, or if the infection was domestic. The latest information reports that he arrived in Thailand on an Ethiopian Airlines flight on October 21 with a visa to study language at Chiang Mai, valid until January 18.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

World 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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