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A ranking health official in the city clarified Monday that there are no monkeypox cases in Puerto Princesa despite claims that two persons, believed to be foreign nationals, had recently sought to be tested for the viral disease in a local hospital.

On Sunday, various sources asked Palawan News to check with local health authorities to see whether this was factual since they had apparently been admitted with what seemed to be monkeypox.

However, City Health Office (CHO) chief Dr. Ricardo Panganiban said that their cases had been ruled out as monkeypox by the City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (CESU) because the symptoms they manifested did not match those of the viral disease.

“Suspected, opo. Tama yon, na-i-refer sa amin ng isang ospital at sa CESU itong July 30, Sabado. Na-report, na-coordinate ng CESU sa Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU), at ang findings po ng region ay hindi siya nag-fall doon sa monkeypox. In other words, wala tayong monkeypox,” he said.

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The first suspected case was reported in the first week of July, but he was discharged when his monkeypox test came back negative.

The second suspected case, who was confined at their Patient Under Investigation (PUI) facility on July 31, was likewise ruled out as monkeypox, according to Panganiban.

“Nagpa check up siya. Galing pa siya sa ibang lugar ng Pilipinas–nagkaroon ng lesion, tapos nagkaroon siya ng sore throat at fever, Pero nawala kaagad yon–two days lang nawala na. Yong lesion niya hindi naman nag progress. In other words, solitary siya, parang more on nag rash tapos nakamot. Ginamot siya doon sa lugar na pinanggalingan niya, kaya lang hindi niya sinunod yong pinapainom na gamot sa kanya,” Panganiban said.

On July 29, the Department of Health (DOH) reported the detection of the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the country. The case was a 31-year-old Filipino national who arrived from abroad on July 19.

The DOH said he had prior travels to countries with documented monkeypox cases. He tested positive using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction or RT PCR at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on July 28.

The patient is now in home isolation. There were 10 close contacts, three of whom were from the case’s own household. All have been advised to quarantine, and are being monitored by the department.

A different microorganism than COVID-19 is what causes monkeypox. Investigations into recent instances of monkeypox in non-endemic nations suggest that the disease may be transmitted via sexual contact.

The DOH said it is mostly disseminated via close sexual contact with people who have open sores or rashes. It does not disperse primarily via the air as COVID-19 does. The illness seldom results in death, and the symptoms of monkeypox are modest.

“Our surveillance systems immediately detected Monkeypox. We immediately took care of and isolated the patient to keep the disease from spreading. Fast contact tracing has identified the close contacts, to halt transmission. Let us continue to be vigilant, to follow our health protocols, and to get the right information only from DOH and its partner agencies,” said Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire, DOH officer-in-charge.

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