On Saturday, 23 July, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared
the growing monkeypox outbreak a new global health emergency.
numbers now exponentially increasing, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus made the decision that “that the global monkeypox outbreak
represents a public health emergency of international concern" and urged
a coordinated international response to prevent the virus from
spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic.
To date, there are more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries
and territories, with Europe currently the epicentre of the virus.
According to the WHO, anyone diagnosed with monkeypox or display
signs and symptoms compatible with the virus infection should avoid any
travel until they are no longer considered a public health risk.
Are there any monkeypox travel restrictions?
Currently, most countries have imposed monkeypox-related travel
regulations yet. However, several countries have set plans into motion
to mitigate the spread of the virus.
In Japan, where there hasn't been any confirmed cases yet, the
Foreign Ministry has issued an overseas travel warning on 25 July urging
travellers to exercise an abundance of caution regarding monkeypox.
As of Sunday, 24 July, Singapore saw the addition of two new
monkeypox cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country
to eight. Those identified with monkeypox are immediately conveyed to
the hospital, and even after tests return negative after a period of
time, they continue to be isolated for further assessment. All close
contacts are mandated to undergo 21 days of quarantine from their last
contact with the case.
The Dubai Health Authority has requested for individuals in the UAE
to self-isolated either at home or in an isolation facility for 21 days
should they test positive for monkeypox. Those who have come into
contact with infected patients will also need to isolate themselves in a
single room for 21 days, and to visit medical facilities should they
show symptoms of the disease.
In Belgium, the country has implemented a compulsory 21-day
quarantine for those who have contracted monkeypox, with no plans yet
for contact tracing or close contacts to undergo isolation.
Will large-scale restrictions be likely?
Large-scale restrictions are unlikely to be imposed anytime soon, at
least in Singapore. Khoo Yoong Khean, scientific officer at the Centre
for Outbreak Preparedness in Duke-NUS Medical School, told The Straits
Times that monkeypox is a "very different" disease from Covid-19.
Khoo pointed out that Covid-19 is transmitted through droplets in the
air while monkeypox is transmitted through close, prolonged contact
with an infected person. "Therefore, there will unlikely be lockdowns or
large-scale social or movement restrictions [in Singapore] for now," he
Former president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners
Associations and the Malaysian Medical Association, Milton Lum,
summarised in an article published on The Star that while monkeypox is
in Malaysia and it does pose some concern, there is no need to panic
over it, due to the lower transmission risks of the virus.
According to Mohammad Syahril, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s health
ministry, the country has yet to detect a single monkeypox case as of 24
June. Syahril said that the government will continue monitoring the
global monkeypox updates and prepare detailed guidelines for lab
Thailand saw its first monkeypox case on 19 July after a Nigerian man
tested positive for the disease in Phuket and as subsequently warded.
He had escaped the hospital and fled to Cambodia where he was arrested
on 23 July. Phuket authorities are currently monitoring 19 people who
came into close contact with the man.
The monkeypox alert had been heightened to the national level in
Thailand following an emergency meeting of health agencies and the
public health minister after WHO declared monkeypox a global health