Editorial comment – A wake-up call

Fiji's Ministry of Health PS Dr James Fong. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU / FT FILE

The revelation by the Health Ministry permanent secretary, Dr James Fong, that “a number of individuals are under investigation” for demonstrating symptoms similar to monkeypox, will attract attention.

Where the index of suspicion was high, he said, the individuals were isolated. Isolation precautions, he said, would remain in place until either the cases were proven negative, or if positive, isolation would be maintained until lesions had healed well.

Dr Fong said discussions with their reference laboratory in Melbourne were in place to ensure access to definitive tests.

Monkeypox, he said, was usually a self-limiting illness, however, severe illness could occur in some people.

He said they were in discussions with development partners to preposition access to vaccines and medications used to treat monkeypox.

On the international front, CNN reported two days ago that Singapore had confirmed its first case of monkeypox, the first in Southeast Asia during this year’s outbreak, and another case had been confirmed in South Korea.

Apparently, the case in Singapore involved a British man who was there between June 15 and 17.

We learn that monkeypox, as CNN pointed out, which is considered a less severe cousin of smallpox, has an incubation period of seven to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What matters for us is the fact that this latest outbreak has seen more than 2500 cases reported in dozens of countries where the disease was not considered endemic.

This included our neighbour Australia which reported its first case on May 20, and the US, where as of Friday last week, the CDC had reported more than 110 confirmed cases.

CNN reported the first monkeypox case in the United States in 2022 was confirmed in mid-May when a Massachusetts resident tested positive after returning from Canada.

Monkeypox, we learn, is endemic to parts of west and central Africa and is usually contracted from a rodent or small mammal.

However, according to the report, the monkeypox virus can spread through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or items such as clothing and bedding contaminated with the virus.

It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, typically in a close setting, according to the CDC, CNN reported.

We have been warned.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we are not immune to such illnesses.

The world is now a smaller place when one considers air travel.

There were many lessons learnt during the pandemic.

We must be vigilant!

We say stay well and stay safe.

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