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COVID-19 task force adviser suggests against closing borders amid monkeypox outbreak

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
COVID-19 task force adviser suggests against closing borders amid monkeypox outbreak
A child affected by monkeypox, sits on his father's legs while receiving treatment at the centre of the International medical NGO Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans frontieres - MSF), in Zomea Kaka, in the Lobaya region, in the Central African Republic on October 18, 2018. Monkeypox is a contagious disease, without remedy, which heals itself, but who can kill if not treated in time. Since May 2018, the monkeypox virus, which spreads in tropical Africa, has become a "public health threat" in the Central African Republic, according to the Pasteur Institute of Bangui.
AFP / Charles Bouessel

MANILA, Philippines — Dr. Ted Herbosa, the medical adviser of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said the government should not close the borders amid the spread of monkeypox abroad, explaining that the infection is not contagious as COVID-19 and that the closure of borders will have a huge effect on the country's economy. 

Several cases of monkeypox, a disease endemic to Africa, have been detected in North America and Europe in early May. Eighty cases have been confirmed in 11 countries, and there are 50 more suspected cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. 

"As an adviser [to the NTF against COVID-19], I will not recommend closing our borders just because there are reported cases," Herbosa said in Filipino in an interview over Laging Handa on Saturday.

He explained that monkeypox, a virus transmitted to humans from animals, is not as infectious as COVID-19 which is airborne. Local health authorities said monkeypox can be transmitted to humans through close contact with the wounds, body fluids, or respiratory droplets of infected person or animal, or with contaminated materials. 

Herbosa explained he is also not in favor of immediately closing the borders because doing so will have a huge effect on the Philippine economy, tourism and the supply chain of goods and services. 

While there is no detected case of monkeypox in the Philippines, the Health department said Friday that it is intensifying border screening and actively monitoring the developments. 

The agency also encouraged everyone to practice minimum public health standards to avoid the transmission of monkeypox. Members of the public are advised to:

  • Wear their best-fitted mask

  • Ensure good airflow

  • Keep hands clean

  • Practice social distancing

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, rashes, and swollen lymph nodes. 

The Department of Health has said that monkeypox may resemble smallpox, but the former is less contagious and causes less severe illnesses. 

RELATED: Monkeypox: a rare disease with low fatality rates

COVID-19

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