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Monkeypox concerns loom over festival season in Asia

Fingers crossed suspicious rashes won’t blemish our summer plans

  • Amira Waworuntu
  • 28 July 2022
Monkeypox concerns loom over festival season in Asia

As more and more countries report their first cases of monkeypox, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the virus as a global health emergency. Countries are asked to step up their public health measures in handling the disease.

As of late, over 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 75 countries. Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director for Southeast Asia, has urged for the acceleration of vaccine research along with infection prevention and control in hospitals.

“Monkeypox has been spreading rapidly and to many countries that have not seen it before, which is a matter of great concern.” said Dr Singh. She also adds that “Though the risk of monkeypox globally and in the region is moderate, the potential of its further international spread is real. Also, there are still many unknowns about the virus."

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In Asia itself, cases have been reported in India, Thailand and Singapore, with growing concern that this virus will spread to other countries as travel restrictions are becoming more lenient.

Last month, the WHO suggested that the spread could also be amplified over the summer with artists, tourists and festival enthusiasts flying to and from events within the region. The warning, now not only confined to Europe, has hit Asia’s radar as the number of infected add up by the day.

The latest country affected so far is Japan, with a Tokyo resident returning from Europe in mid-July confirmed to test positive for monkeypox, showing symptoms of fatigue, a fever, rash and headache. In addition, Singapore confirmed two additional cases last Sunday.

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Though the WHO is not advocating for the shutdown of festivals in Europe, they undoubtedly call on seriously managing the risk of amplifying the virus. "We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere," mentions Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO's mass gatherings technical officer, adding that the events "may represent a conducive environment for transmission", she said.

Obviously, Asia should take note of this too; with highly anticipated events lined up for the summer and beyond, best to be on the lookout for suspicious rashes.

[Via: Channel News Asia]

Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Editorial Assistant, follow her on Instagram.