A total of nine cases of suspected monkeypox notified to the health ministry as of July 23 have been confirmed negative, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says.
Following the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) designating the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), he said, the ministry had reminded all health facilities to be aware of the current monkeypox situation and to increase detection efforts among patients at risk.
He said non-Malaysian travellers should fill in the traveller's card in the MySejahtera application, and travellers arriving from countries with reports of monkeypox would receive pop-up health messages every day through MySejahtera to remind them to monitor for monkeypox infection symptoms.
"Travellers arriving from those countries are advised to monitor their personal health status every day, including for symptoms of monkeypox infection, for a period of 21 days from the date of arrival in Malaysia," he said in a statement today.
Symptoms of monkeypox are fever, fatigue, maculopapular rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the palms and soles followed by other parts of the body, muscle spasms and swollen lymph nodes.
Khairy said for the period of May 1 to July 23, a total of 531,630 travellers were recorded to have arrived from countries that have reported cases of monkeypox. He said the MySejahtera application issues a monkeypox health alert to all travellers.
"The health ministry calls on individuals with symptoms of monkeypox to immediately go to a health facility for examination and further treatment. Avoid contact with other people to prevent infecting others," he said.
He said operators of premises which provide services that involve skin contact with customers, such as spas and massage parlours, should ensure personal and environmental hygiene, and that their customers are healthy and have no symptoms of monkeypox.
The monkeypox virus can be spread through direct contact with a rash or lesion that occurs on the skin, either a new lesion or a scab, or fluid from the lesion, he added.
Khairy said the ministry had also increased the capacity of laboratories in the country from two to 12 that can conduct monkeypox virus detection tests, of which eight are government laboratories.
The ministry has also established sentinel surveillance at several private and government clinics to monitor the incidence of rash or skin lesions in addition to increasing surveillance at the country's international entry points, he added.
On July 23, WHO declared the monkeypox outbreak as a PHEIC based on several factors, including the sudden increase in the number of cases reported by non-endemic monkeypox countries, as well as scientific evidence and data related to the infection.
On June 17, a total of 2,103 cases of monkeypox were reported in 42 countries with one death.