Reports of the country recording its fourth official monkeypox case was met with collective concern after the patient did not have any travel history to countries with documented cases of the disease.
The Department of Health on Monday said that a 25-year-old Filipino had been admitted to an isolation facility after a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed the monkeypox infection on August 19, Friday.
The health agency in a statement said that 14 close contacts had been identified, with one taking care of the patient in the facility while six are undergoing quarantine.
Another close contact is a health worker who is now “self-monitoring.”
The whereabouts of six other close contacts, meanwhile, are still being verified.
“Intensive case investigation and contact tracing is ongoing,” the DOH said.
All four confirmed monkeypox cases are unrelated to each other.
DOH said that the first case has since recovered and is now discharged from isolation earlier this month, while cases two and three are isolating at home but in stable condition.
The confirmation of the fourth case is the third monkeypox infection that was reported in less than a week.
Last Friday, the DOH confirmed two cases of the viral disease.
The agency’s confirmation of the fourth case bothered some Filipinos after learning that the patient did not travel to any county with documented cases of monkeypox.
“This is SO alarming. No documented travel hx [history] from the confirmed case only means that monkeypox is HERE. And yet, wala pa rin tayong DOH sec? Sabi nga ni Taylor Swift, ‘I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending,'” a Twitter user said.
“P*** where are they from,” another online user commented on the reports.
“Naku, papano nagka-monkeypox [kung] wala namang travel history? Magic,” a Filipino from Facebook remarked.
“No documented travel history…….” a different Facebook user emphasized.
Statistician Peter Cayton also questioned the agency for appearing to “suppress” the report.
“They suppressed news for 3 days? They already confirmed a positive result last Friday,” he wrote in a quote tweet.
Meanwhile, the DOH on Thursday said that it could not confirm nor deny that the fourth monkeypox case is a local transmission.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer-in-charge of the agency, said that they are still trying to verify the source of monkeypox infection.
A local transmission, she explained, occurs when a person infects an individual without international travel history.
“We are still trying to back trace, verify information so we can establish the source of infection, and that is the only time we can tell you and confirm to the public if this really is a local case or not,” Vergeire said.
The World Health Organization notes that monkeypox spreads through “close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects.”
Transmission through respiratory particles can also occur through prolonged face-to-face contact.
Infected pregnant mothers can also spread the viral disease to their fetuses.
It can be prevented by avoiding skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have rashes that look like monkeypox and avoiding touching the objects they have used.
Regular handwashing of at least 20 seconds is also recommended, as well as the constant wearing of face masks.