The Philippines is tightening its border control measures as an official of the World Health Organization in Europe warned the transmission of the monkeypox virus could accelerate, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Saturday.
“We have instructed the Bureau of Quarantine to intensify its surveillance of passengers coming from countries with known cases of monkeypox,” the Health chief said.
“Symptom screening had also been heightened for inbound passengers, among other control measures,” Duque added.
However, Dr. Ted Herbosa, National Task Force Against COVID-19 special adviser, said there is no need to close the country’s borders over the monkeypox spread.
“It is not a new sickness. It is not a mystery illness that would require us to close our borders. We know how to treat it and how it spreads,” Herbosa said.
“As an adviser, I will not recommend Monkeypox…closing our borders just because there are 85 reported cases of monkeypox,” he added.
The DOH earlier said no case of the monkeypox virus has been detected in the Philippines.
On Friday, the WHO said that there are about 80 confirmed cases of monkeypox so far, and 50 pending investigations across 11 countries, including several parts of Europe, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Duque, however, said the WHO “has not classified monkeypox as a threat to public health as of now.”
“We are guided by their latest advisory,” he said.
WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge on Friday said that “as we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate.”
The virus, which causes distinctive pustules but is rarely fatal, has previously been seen in central and west Africa.
The health official warned that transmission could be boosted by the fact that “the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity,” and many do not recognize the symptoms.
Most initial cases of the disease have been among men who have sex with men and sought treatment at sexual health clinics, Kluge said, adding “this suggests that transmission may have been ongoing for some time.”
Symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
Monkeypox usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the WHO. With AFP