The World Health Organisation (WHO) has labelled the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, effectively sounding off an alarm for a coordinated international response and the possibility of funding and sharing vaccines and treatments.
More than 16,000 cases have been detected in at least 75 countries, up from about 3,000 at the end of June.
The decision by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on July 23 has not triggered any major travel restrictions or mass vaccination orders in Asia.
While Singapore has eight monkeypox infections at press time, the Ministry of Health said on July 25 that mass vaccination of the population against the viral disease was not recommended. Health minister Ong Ye Kung said the benefits of vaccination do not outweigh the risk, but continued surveillance is in order.
Thai health authorities, which had on July 24 upgraded the country’s monkeypox alert to the national level, advised against public panic, saying that the “virus does not spread rapidly like Covid”. The Medical Services Department said the country has sufficient medicine and facilities to treat patients in the event of a monkeypox outbreak, according to The Nation Thailand.
Indonesia’s Health Ministry told Jakarta Globe on June 24 that there are no identified cases in the country, but the government has established two labs to detect monkeypox and is preparing detailed guidelines for lab testing.