President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday allayed fears of Filipinos on monkeypox, saying it is not as infectious as COVID-19.
“I want to be very clear that this is not COVID. This is not like COVID. Monkeypox is not as scary as COVID,” he said on the sidelines of the COVID-19 booster vaccination campaign launch in Pasig City.
The Department of Health likewise said there is no need to close the country’s borders after the first monkeypox case was confirmed in the country.
“Just like the direction of our present administration, we want to go to the phase where we can already go back to our work and in schools. Closing borders is not necessary,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
“Even the World Health Organization classified the risk of monkeypox as low to moderate. There is no need to close borders, no need for our trade to discontinue,” she added.
Marcos said the country now has no active monkeypox cases after the first patient has already recovered.
“As of now, the patient has already been released from the hospital. We don’t have any more cases of monkeypox,” he added.
Marcos said treatments and vaccines are available for monkeypox.
The President, however, called on the public to continue following health protocols to avoid the spread of the disease.
“We remain vigilant. We are closely monitoring monkeypox just like we have done with COVID,” he said.
The DOH has identified 10 contacts of the country’s first monkeypox patient.
Even if the patient has already recovered, Vergeire said the 21-day isolation period must still be completed and all the symptoms must be resolved before the patient could be allowed to go out again.
Health experts said monkeypox is contagious as soon as the symptoms start.
There is a real-time polymerase chain reaction test for monkeypox, Vergeire said.
“We have already mobilized our surveillance teams as early as May at our airports and docks. We are confident that all cases to enter the country will be detected,” she said.
“We’re exploring where we can get or buy vaccines or if we can receive a donation as soon as possible,” she added.
Meanwhile, an infectious disease expert said anyone can get infected with monkeypox through close intimate contact.
This as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week found that 98 percent of those infected with monkeypox were gay or bisexual men, and 95 percent of cases were transmitted through sexual activity.
“It’s safe to say anybody who has close intimate contact with a person having monkeypox then you have a high risk of getting the infection,” said Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of adult infectious diseases at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
“This is an infection that everybody or anyone is at risk, it just so happened at this point in time this outbreak has occurred in this group of the population,” he added.
Solante warned against improper labeling of the disease as it can lead to stigmatization and discrimination.
“We just have to advise that those who had these lesions, anybody can get the infection regardless of what risk group you are, and the important message there is anybody is at risk of monkeypox,” he said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta