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Te Marae Ora monitoring New Zealand’s monkeypox situation

Tuesday 26 July 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National

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Te Marae Ora monitoring New Zealand’s monkeypox situation
Te Marae Ora will respond accordingly when one is identified in country with monkeypox, says Secretary of Health Bob Williams. Photo: AFP/22072518

Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the monkeypox situation after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a global emergency.

The WHO says the expanding outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that now qualifies as a global emergency.

Asked about the situation, Cook Islands Secretary of Health Bob Williams said the level and nature of the transmissibility of monkeypox is “not the same as Covid-19, but we are monitoring the New Zealand situation”.

“People have access to internet and they can read how monkeypox can be transmitted,” Williams said.

“TMO will respond accordingly when one is identified in country with monkeypox.”

On July 9, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health (MoH) reported the country’s first case of monkeypox. New Zealand reported its second case of monkeypox on July 12.

“We have already taken steps to prepare for the arrival of Monkeypox,” MoH’s release says.

“Last month, Monkeypox was officially listed as a notifiable disease enabling us to utilise the tools needed to contain any possible spread of the disease including isolation orders and readying contact tracing capabilities. A Monkeypox PCR test is available in New Zealand labs and is what has been used to detect this first case.”

According to the MoH, person-to-person spread may occur through: sexual or intimate contact with an infected person (including kissing); contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person; direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs; and respiratory droplets from an individual with monkeypox.

“In endemic areas, spread of monkeypox may occur when a person comes into close contact with a wild animal (such as a rodent) infected with the virus,” the MoH’s website says.

“Based on this, if you think you may have been exposed and you develop monkeypox symptoms, particularly a rash, you should isolate from others and seek medical care. Wear a mask and call your doctor or nearest hospital to let them know you will be attending. If you have a rash or blisters, make sure these are covered.”