Singapore, a city state which is located next to the Indonesian island of Batam, has been shocked by a case of monkeypox over this past week. This rare virus infected a 38-year-old Nigerian who arrived in the city state on April 28, 2019.
The city state's Ministry of Health (MOH) has officially reported this first case of monkeypox to the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 9.
As revealed by WHO's official website, the Nigerian man visited Singapore to attend a workshop, held from April 29-30, but before flying to Singapore, he joined a wedding party in a village in Nigeria's Ebonyi State on April 21.
At the party, the Nigerian man was reported by Channel News Asia (CNA) to have consumed "bush meat". On his third day in Singapore, he suffered from "fever, muscle aches, chills, and a skin rash" believed to be the symptoms of this rare virus”.
The Nigerian national, whose name has not been announced, reportedly stayed in his hotel room during a week-long illness. On May 7, he was rushed to Singapore's National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
The WHO further noted that the patient was confirmed to be suffering from monkeypox by Singapore's National Public Health Laboratory on May 8.
According to WHO's fact sheet, monkeypox is a rare virus spread to humans from animals, that is found chiefly in the remote areas of central and west Africa, near tropical rainforests.
Considering the danger of the monkeypox virus, which is potentially fatal, Indonesian health authorities in different parts of the archipelago have stepped up their prevention and detection activities.
The Tanjungpinang Health, Birth Control, and Family Planning Office, for instance, is offering an isolation room at Raja Ahmad Thabib Hospital for monkeypox virus patients, as a precautionary measure to fight its spread.
According to Rustam, head of the Tanjungpinang Health, Birth Control, and Family Planning Office, his staff had established coordination with their colleagues in the Riau Islands provincial government to select Raja Ahmad Thabib Hospital as a "reference hospital".
All concerned agencies should also intensify their prevention and detection activities at Sri Bintan Pura Port. Steps to increase prevention and identification systems at the seaport were deemed necessary, as it was the main entry gate for the arrival and departure of Singaporean and Malaysian visitors to Tanjungpinang.
In fact, the city state is located in proximity to Tanjungpinang. Hence, in spite of local health centers, hospitals, and community members reporting no cases of monkeypox in Tanjungpinang, all parties must remain alert, Rustam pointed out.
Riau's provincial government has also strengthened its prevention and detection mechanisms for visitors at its seaports and airport to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.
"We have urged the Pekanbaru-based port's health authorities to step up their inspections of passengers recently arriving from Singapore to stop the spread of monkeypox," Head of the Riau Health Office Mimi Yuliani Nazir said.
Passengers arriving from Batam Island were also screened, because several of them might have visited Singapore, despite the fact that until now, no cases of monkeypox have been reported in Riau Province.
To this end, monitoring will be conducted at seaports having access to Batam. "This policy has been put in place to control and stop the spread of this rare virus. The Riau Health Office and all health service providers will remain vigilant and conduct inspections," she remarked.
Meanwhile, Central Kalimantan's provincial government has intensified its prevention and detection systems for those arriving at its seaports and airports, to prevent the spread of monkeypox.
Hence, Central Kalimantan's quarantine agency officials have been directed to conduct stricter inspections as a precautionary measure, the Central Kalimantan provincial government's secretary, Fahrizal Fitri, remarked on Thursday.
In spite of the province reporting no monkeypox cases, the local government has appealed to its population to promptly notify authorities about any person exhibiting monkeypox symptoms, he remarked.
Authorities and community members must be heedful of anyone showing symptoms with signs of this viral disease, which bears a resemblance to those observed in smallpox victims.
Fitri emphasized that if people spot someone exhibiting these symptoms, they should report it and send the ailing individual to local hospitals for medical treatment, along with taking precautionary measures against the further spread of this viral disease.