“But many of the recent transmissions were due to sexual contact between two males which seems to add a new dimension to how the disease is spreading”
The World Health Organization said, as of last week, there were already 1,880 cases and 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox reported in 39 countries.
The WHO also convened an emergency committee meeting because, it said, there is clearly an unusual situation and it intends to find out whether it warrants being declared a global medical emergency.
Although the disease is endemic only in Africa, the disease has been popping out in the most unlikely countries in Europe and North America and on people who had no travel history to Africa.
The US has 65 confirmed cases while the United Kingdom has 570, the biggest outside Africa.
Clearly, WHO is now taking the disease seriously. The question now is whether our own preparation is sufficient.
Should we not be doing a little more than simply monitoring? Last week, the United States started ordering hundreds of thousands of the two-dose monkeypox vaccine Jynneos from Bavarian Nordic, the vaccine manufacturer.
Countries in Europe are doing the same.
Although the Department of Health said it is monitoring the situation, should we not be following suit and order some vaccines just so we will not again be caught flat footed?
Monkeypox, we are told, is much harder to transmit than COVID-19 because prolonged contact with an infected person is necessary.
But many of the recent transmissions were due to sexual contact between two males which seems to add a new dimension to how the disease is spreading.
Medical experts in the US are now urging more vigilance, testing and not to underestimate the risks involved.
This is because it is now appearing that the disease has been circulating in the country much longer than May 15 when the first infection was detected in Massachusetts.
Proof of this is that there are now two variants of the disease. The danger here as pointed to by their infectious disease experts is if the disease transfers to rodents, hamsters and other animals.
This will make containment difficult and the pox will become endemic in the country.
There are millions of Filipinos scattered worldwide working even in Africa where the disease was first detected and identified in Congo in 1970.
It appears that, as was the case of COVID-19, the monkeypox originated from animals like monkeys or rodents before transferring to humans.
So, there is the danger of returning Filipino nationals bringing the disease here which can remain undetected due to misdiagnoses.
Misdiagnosis was suspected as the reason why the US cases were detected much later.
If doctors in the US can misdiagnose the disease, so can doctors here.
We should therefore not be too complacent especially that the disease has now appeared in Singapore.
The good news so far is that no one has been reported to have died because of the disease in this most recent outbreak.
But it can still kill and be debilitating to those who get infected.
The whole idea is for DOH and the IATF to look at this situation with a little more sense of urgency before it is too late.
* * *
Given the significant increase in the daily COVID-19 infections, there is still no resolution to the standoff between the Secretary of the DILG and the maverick Governor of Cebu.
The order of Secretary Ano to the police to arrest violators still stands while Governor Garcia remains firm that outdoor use of face mask is voluntary.
We seem to be following what is happening in the United States wherein some states do not follow some federal guidelines when it comes to mask mandates.
This, however, cannot be done here because of our unitary system of government wherein local government units do not have that kind of autonomy to refuse a legal national policy more so if the pandemic emergency has not yet been lifted.
It is not as if this is the first time the good Governor has done this.
In fact, she has gone against some IATF policies in the past.
Why the Cebu Governor is doing this when there is an uptick in infection I do not know.
We can only speculate o0n her reasons.
She probably should have coordinated with the IATF first but this is simply not her style. With the current administration about to bow out on July 1, it is doubtful whether this issue will have a satisfactory resolution since both sides are standing firm on their positions.
I am beginning to suspect that the only casualty in this sordid episode will be the relieved Police Provincial Director who sided with the Governor by violating the PNP chain of command.
Let’s see what happens next.