The case in Singapore involves a British man who was in the city-state between June 15 and 17. He tested positive for monkeypox on Monday after developing skin rashes and experiencing headaches and a fever last week.
“During this period, he mostly stayed in his hotel room, except to visit a massage parlor and eat at three food outlets on June 16,” Singapore’s health ministry said on Tuesday.
Thirteen of the man’s close contacts have been identified and contact tracing is underway, the ministry said, adding that the man is being treated at the National Center for Infectious Diseases.
The case in South Korea involves a South Korean national who reported to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency after returning to the country from Germany on Wednesday. The KCDA said the South Korean, who is now being treated at a facility in Seoul, reported that he had a headache before flying and developed a fever, sore throat, fatigue and skin lesions upon arrival in the country.
Meanwhile, South Korea said it was also investigating a second suspected case involving a foreigner who entered the country on Monday and was taken to a hospital in the city of Busan after experiencing symptoms and developing a blistering skin lesion.
Considered a less serious cousin of smallpox, monkeypox has an incubation period of seven to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Initial symptoms are often flu-like, including fever, chills, exhaustion, headache, and muscle weakness, followed by swollen lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.
The disease then progresses to a rash and lesions that can blister and crust over the entire body, usually lasting two to four weeks.
The virus has been circulating for decades in some places, including parts of West and Central Africa.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said it will remove the distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries to reflect a “unified response”.
Lessons from Covid-19
Singapore last detected a case of monkeypox in 2019, in a 38-year-old man from Nigeria who had traveled to the city-state to attend a wedding.
“Monkeypox is not a new disease, so we know quite a bit about the disease and the virus.” [which] It’s been around for some time,” said Khoo Yoong Khean, a medical doctor and science officer at the Duke-NUS Center for Outbreak Preparedness in Singapore.
“But there is a change in the way the disease circulates and spreads in this current outbreak… [and] This appears to be an evolving situation.”
Khoo said the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic could be applied to any potential monkeypox outbreak in the region.
“Countries will be wise to pay attention. We have many tools that we have been using for Covid-19 and will now be useful: contract tracing methods, quarantine protocols and even a mass immunization strategy if necessary.”
“While I don’t think we need to worry too much about the global situation, and we might be in a better place now, disease outbreaks are never predictable, as we know. We may have monkeypox surprises in the near future, so that we must continue to strengthen our health and surveillance systems, work collaboratively with other countries, and make better decisions than [we did] during the Covid pandemic”.