What to know about monkeypox and the situation in Singapore (updated 19 Aug)

·4 min read
What's the monkeypox situation in Singapore like? (PHOTO: Getty Images)
What's the monkeypox situation in Singapore like? (PHOTO: Getty Images)

LATEST UPDATE: Singapore authorities confirmed its 14th and 15th cases of monkeypox infection, linked to the global outbreak, in the city-state on Friday (5 August) night.

The two cases are both men, aged 25 and 54, with no recent travel history, according to information published online by the Ministry of Health (MOH). The ministry did not specify their nationalities.

The older man is linked to the 13th case, announced on Wednesday, who is a 33-year-old man with no recent travel history.

In total, there are 10 local and five imported cases, all of whom are men.

Both the 12th and 11th monkeypox cases were also classified as local. The 12th case, announced on Tuesday, is a 59-year-old man with no recent travel history.

The 11th case, announced on 27 July, is a 32-year-old Singaporean man. He had developed a fever on 12 July as well as lesions in the groin area with further generalised spread and was subsequently admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary in Parliament on Monday said no local close contacts of the then 11 monkeypox cases had tested positive or developed symptoms compatible with the virus.

Of the 45 close contacts identified through contact tracing, 10 were repatriated before the end of their quarantine period. Those who remained in Singapore are well, with 11 having completed their quarantine.

The close contacts were also offered the smallpox vaccine as a measure to prevent the disease, of whom 11 chose to be inoculated.

Singapore confirmed its first case of monkeypox linked to the outbreak, classified as imported, on 21 June. Its second case, classified as local, was confirmed on 6 July.

Cases of monkeypox cases linked to the outbreak have been detected in Singapore. (SCREENCAP: moh.gov.sg)
Cases of monkeypox cases linked to the outbreak have been detected in Singapore. (SCREENCAP: moh.gov.sg)

What is monkeypox

Monkeypox, a usually mild viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading globally since May.

The fatality rate in previous outbreaks of the monkeypox strain currently spreading has been around 1 per cent.

While patients typically recover within two to four weeks, a small percentage of those infected can fall seriously ill or even die. Those particularly vulnerable to complications are young children, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals.

The risk to the general public remains low given that transmission of the infection requires close physical or prolonged contact.

Symptoms of monkeypox (IMAGE: Getty Images)
Symptoms of monkeypox (IMAGE: Getty Images)

The situation in 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 23 July have been in place since May.

In a media reply to Yahoo News Singapore on 24 July 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.

MOH 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.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung previously said in a written parliamentary reply on 4 July that monkeypox is unlikely to become a global pandemic like COVID-19.

Monkeypox globally

On 23 July, the WHO said the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak represented a global health emergency, the organisation's highest level of alert.

Called a "public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)", the label is designed to trigger a coordinated international response, such as unlocking funding to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.

The WHO has also urged men who have sex with men to reduce the number of sexual partners to curb the spread of the disease. Most of the infections reported so far involved men who have sex with men.

But WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there must not be any stigma against any groups, warning that such discrimination is as “dangerous as any virus”.

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