Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday rejected proposals to close down the country’s borders amid the threat of the monkeypox virus.
“The closing of borders or strict border control, we should not do that as of now,” Duque said in an interview on Balitanghali.
“First of all, our measures for this are the stricter surveillance, the more stringent symptom screening,” added Duque, who said he is in constant coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Duque has also ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to monitor incoming passengers from countries that have detected monkeypox.
These include Canada, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Europe, and North America. The Philippines has yet to detect the monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox’s rate of transmission is not similar to COVID, he said.
“The mode of transmission is direct physical contact. So, person to person, skin to skin. For example, the source is bodily fluids, exchange of bodily fluids… some said there is also sexual transmission,” he said.
“The pus, the blood, there has to be an exchange,” he added.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
The virus is less contagious and causes less severe illness compared to smallpox.
Duque earlier said WHO had not yet classified monkeypox as a threat to public health.
In related developments, infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said COVID-19 was more transmissible than the monkeypox as it could be spread in various ways.
The Philippines has yet to detect the monkeypox. The disease has recently emerged in 12 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
“It’s still the COVID that’s more transmissible because of several ways of transmission. Aside from the droplet, you can also have the airborne… There’s also contact transmission,” Solante said.
“For monkeypox the most common human-to-human mode of transmission is only respiratory droplets so within three feet of talking to each other without any face mask.”
But he said there was a possibility that the monkeypox could enter the Philippines.
“Even in countries where the ability to diagnose is very high-tech, the infection was still documented,” he said.
According to WHO, monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is transmitted with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and
contaminated materials such as bedding.
The virus has an Incubation period of around 6-13 days, but this could also range from 5-21 days.
Symptoms include unexplained acute rash and one or more of the following: headache, acute onset of fever (>38.5 degrees C), lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes), myalgia (muscle and body aches), back pain, and asthenia (profound weakness).
Cases where monkeypox has been recorded, as of May 21, are in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and USA.
Meanwhile, an adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said the monkeypox had a higher case fatality rate than the COVID-19 death rate in the Philippines.
The monkeypox has an estimated three percent case fatality rate in Africa versus the 2.5 percent COVID-19 case fatality rate in the Philippines, Dr. Ted Herbosa said.
The Philippines has yet to detect the infectious disease. It has emerged in 12 non-endemic countries as of Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
The West African clade, which has so far been detected in the cases in Europe, has been observed to have a case fatality rate of 3.6 percent,
according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
“There are still no reported deaths from the 80 to 200 cases. That does not mean there’s no deaths. In Africa, the case fatality rate is about 3, that’s a bit higher than our COVID with just 2.5,” Herbosa said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
The monkeypox is self-limiting and persons with symptoms are urged not to travel, Herbosa said.