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Fiji acts to protect against potential outbreak of monkeypox

Wednesday 25 May 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional

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Fiji acts to protect against potential outbreak of monkeypox
Dr James Fong. Photo: Facebook/Fiji gov

Fiji's Ministry of Health is putting in place strategies to protect Fiji from Monkeypox.

The Ministry of Health said measures used to curb Covid-19 will be considered to help Fiji deal with any possible cases.

Health Secretary, James Fong, said monkeypox shares a lot of similarities in symptoms to that of Covid-19.

Dr Fong said basic etiquettes such as surface sanitisation, masking and hand sanitisation are critical to preventing the spread of the disease.

"We need to understand what this disease is so that we are better prepared to respond if we were to get a case in Fiji," he said.

He said health experts are monitoring global reports of monkeypox and developing strategies to deal with the disease.

"They are maintaining oversight over all the other reported outbreaks that are happening around the world. We've got definite protocols around how to monitor those outbreaks and how to ensure that if they arrive in Fiji, we have the ability to contain them."

Dr Fong said they will ensure there is little to no disruption to Fiji's social and economic development following the ramifications impounded upon by Covid-19

He said early detection is critical, so anyone who develops symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion must visit their nearest health centre immediately.

Monkeypox is spread from animals to humans via contact with clothing or linen used by an infected person, direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions, and exposure to respiratory droplets like coughs amongst others.

It can be fatal to children and people whose immune systems are weak.

The World Health Organisation said reported cases of fatality are between three to six percent of infections.

Monkeypox until recently was only found in Western and Central Africa

Head of Health Protection Dr Aalisha Sahukhan said the disease is a self-limiting illness with an incubation period ranging from five to 21 days.

"When we say self-limited disease it essentially means that most cases recover without any need for medical intervention. Treatment may be supportive. People are having pains, headaches, and backache but in two to four weeks time, they will recover fully. We know that severe disease can happen though it is not common and severe disease is more likely to affect people who are immune suppressed and also in small children."

Pox virus which includes monkeypox virus, smallpox
Pox virus which includes monkeypox virus, smallpox Photo: AFP