Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Malaysia takes steps to prepare for monkeypox outbreak

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says health officers have been instructed to look out for symptoms of monkeypox in arriving passengers, while authorities are ramping up diagnostic and testing capabilities.

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Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said that Malaysia is boosting its efforts to prepare for a possible outbreak of monkeypox although no cases have been detected in the country so far.

Speaking at a press conference, he said the health ministry was following the developments in both endemic and non-endemic countries which had reported cases of monkeypox, in order to prevent it from entering Malaysia.

“We have instructed the health officers at our international points of entry as well as our immigration officers to look out for symptoms of monkeypox in passengers,” he said.

“If they have symptoms, those passengers will be referred immediately to the health authorities at our international airports.”

He also said that the MySejahtera application would be updated to ensure that passengers coming from countries that have reported cases take precautionary measures.

He said passengers from endemic countries would be issued home surveillance orders (HSO) through MySejahtera.

“As of tomorrow, the MySejahtera application will be updated for passengers from countries where monkeypox is endemic and also for countries in which monkeypox is not endemic.

“For passengers from countries which are not endemic, they will only receive an alert, just to make sure that they are aware of the need to monitor for symptoms for the next 21 days,” he said.

Monkeypox is mostly found in Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon, although cases have also been reported in European countries including the UK and Netherlands.

Khairy also said that his ministry was stepping up its diagnostic capability and capacity for testing.

“Our diagnostic capacity for PCR in reaction tests can detect monkeypox, and we will expand our capacity as well as our ability to procure more agents, so that we can have the capacity to test for monkeypox using PCR isolation and be able to treat patients with monkeypox,” he said.

He also urged the public to take precautionary measures against infection.

“We are quite familiar with the protocol for infectious diseases, having gone through Covid-19 for the past two years,” he said.

“The protocol of isolation and contact tracing, and the utilisation of MySejahtera and HSO will be replicated.”

He added that there is a vaccination strategy in place for close contacts as well as for healthcare workers.

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