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Thailand confirms first monkeypox case in Phuket but patient is missing

Thailand confirms first monkeypox case in Phuket but patient is missing

This file photo shows an ultra-thin section electron-microscopic capture of the monkeypox virus. (Photo: AFP/Robert Koch Institute/Freya Kaulbars)

BANGKOK: The first case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Thailand, but the patient, a 27-year-old Nigerian man, went missing after being informed of his positive test result on Monday (Jul 18).

The case was detected on the popular resort island Phuket last weekend when the patient visited a private hospital with symptoms similar to those of monkeypox.

According to health officials, the hospital took a blood sample from the patient and performed swabs for laboratory tests on Saturday. The result came out positive on Monday evening.

“On Jul 18, at about 6pm, we knew the result from the first laboratory test at Chulalongkorn University. After learning the result, the hospital called the patient to arrange his transfer for medical treatments but he refused and switched off his phone,” Dr Koosak Kookiatkul, head of the Phuket Public Health Office, said in a press conference on Friday.

According to the Phuket health chief, the patient entered Thailand on Oct 21, 2021 and stayed in a condominium in Phuket’s Patong from November. He often visited entertainment venues in the province.

After his hospital visit on Jul 16, the patient was advised to quarantine at his apartment.

However, according to Dr Koosak, closed-circuit television footage showed him leaving his accommodation after being informed of the positive test result on Jul 18 and checking in at a hotel in Patong on the same day.

“On Jul 19, he was still in the premises but didn’t let the staff clean his room. At 9pm, he placed his room key at the reception and left,” Dr Koosak added.

Health officials and local authorities have been tracking the patient in order to provide him with medical treatments and to control the spread of the disease since Monday. They are also conducting active case finding and contact tracing.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed there are two clades of monkeypox virus, namely the West African clade and the Congo Basin (Central African) clade.

“The Congo Basin clade appears to cause severe disease more frequently with case fatality ratio (CFR) previously reported of up to around 10 per cent,” WHO said on its website.

“The West African clade has in the past been associated with an overall lower CFR of around 1 per cent in a generally younger population in the African setting. Since 2017, the few deaths of persons with monkeypox in West Africa have been associated with young age or an untreated HIV infection,” it added.

According to Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director general of the Department of Disease Control, the Nigerian patient is infected by the West African clade. 

“Based on the disease investigation carried out with two high-risk contacts - the patients’ friends who have not exhibited any symptoms - monkeypox was not detected,” he said in a press conference at the Ministry of Public Health on Friday.

“Nevertheless, they have to be monitored or quarantined for 21 days. More searches for patients have to be conducted in areas at risk such as the entertainment venues they had visited. Meanwhile, the investigation team has disinfected the patient’s room,” he added.

Source: CNA/pp(tx)
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