The province of Palawan is considered low risk for monkeypox due to the absence of international commercial flights in the province, according to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).
Dr. Carlos Reyes, Jr. of Palawan Quarantine Station said BOQ remains vigilant in checking countries with cases of monkeypox and the point of origin of travelers coming into the country.
“We are tasked sa boarders, kapag may international aircraft o international vessels. Nachi-check naman– sa Palawan, very low ang risk ng (monkeypox) dahil we don’t have commercial flights, low ang risk na maging point of entry ng monkeypox ang Palawan. Mas mataas sa Manila or major cities dahil mas mataas ang volume of travelers nila ron,” he said.
BOQ assures that cases identified by the Department of Health (DOH) are all checked, isolated, and contacted. He added that, like COVID-19, the physical examination can also help the BOQ in checking the manifestation of monkeypox in the human body.
“Mino-monitor din namin lahat ng countries na may cases ng monkeypox, alam naman namin kapag ang aircraft o vessel saan nanggagaling na darating ng Palawan o Puerto Princesa– At least sa monkeypox, unlike with other illnesses, meron din siyang sa physical examination,” he said.
“Hindi naman kami complacent, aware kami of the situation of monkeypox. We monitor saan countries nagkakaroon ng ganon so that if there will be arrivals from those countries, talagang chini-check namin,” he added.
Monkeypox has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The World Health Organization (WHO) says that cases were found in 92 countries around the world.
As of August 27, a total of 47,751 laboratory-confirmed cases, including 15 deaths, have been reported to WHO. The case of monkeypox was first reported in 1970, but an outbreak has rapidly spread to many countries since May 2022, the WHO stated.
The released outbreak update from WHO mentioned that the symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a typical or atypical rash. The new clinical features include severe inflammation of the rectum—proctitis (which is characterized by rectal bleeding, pain, and diarrhea), inflammation of the urethra (urethritis), and urinary retention, WHO explained.
“Bale ‘yong cases na nalaman ng DOH, they are in isolation, being checked, and contact trace. Ang transmission niyan ay hindi kagaya sa COVID na respiratory kaya tayo naka-mask, more on ‘yan sa close contact, sa fluids,” Carlos said.
The first case of monkeypox was confirmed positive by the Department of Health (DOH) on July 28. There are four cases reported in the Philippines, and the most recent was recorded on August 22.
Meanwhile, the DOH MIMAROPA Regional Office also assured its readiness against monkeypox.
Assistant Regional Director Vilma Diez said they are continuously conducting information dissemination regarding the disease.
Diez explained that although the method of transmission is different compared to COVID-19, protective measures are the same.
“Iba ang paraan ng pagkahawa ng monkey pox sa covid. Ito po ay direct contact, ibig sabihin nahawakan mo so hindi ganoon kabilis ang paraan ng paghawa. Pareho rin naman ang protection – mask, hugas, iwas. At ang paghuhugas ng kamay ang numero uno. Kailangan matagal, at least dalawang pagkanta ng happy birthday para matanggal yung mikrobyo ng monkeypox sa ating kamay. At siyempre huwag pupunta sa mataong lugar,” she said.
“Ang ginagawa ng DOH ngayon ay information dissemination pa rin at siyempre, surveillance and monitoring. Binabantayan ng ating Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Units, at pag may may nag-fit sa case ay kukunan ng sample para sa genomic sequencing at pag nakitang monkeypox ay isolation and contact tracing agad,” she added. (with a report from Gerald Ticke)
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