August 29, 2022

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Expert: Monkeypox lockdown too early 

AN INFECTIOUS disease expert on Monday said it is too early to enforce a lockdown to contain the monkeypox virus. 

Rontgene M. Solante, a member of the Health department’s technical advisory group, made the remark amid lockdown calls after the country detected its fourth monkeypox case last week. 

“Our current cases are not enough yet to say that we need to implement a lockdown,” he told a televised news briefing, calling a lockdown an overreaction. “I don’t think a lockdown is the solution. It’s important to increase the awareness about how to avoid it, and what the symptoms are.” 

Mr. Solante cited the possibility of local transmission given the fourth patient’s lack of travel history. 

“Given the fact that this fourth case does not have a travel history then the likelihood of a local transmission is there,” he said. “And we will not panic, we will intensify our protocols.” 

The country’s first case of monkeypox, which spreads via contact and causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions, was recorded in June. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Solante said coronavirus infections in the country would likely increase as students have returned to schools. 

“More people now are going out, especially with the implementation of full face-to-face classes,” he said. “We would expect that cases would increase.” 

He noted that the highly infectious Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been in the Philippines for four to six weeks. “It’s the dominant variant globally. This is the most evasive subvariant. Those who have been vaccinated could still catch the virus. Those who have been infected before could be infected again.” 

The doctor also noted that the BA.5 has descendants that are also infectious, such as the BA.5.1 and BA.5.2. “Variants of concern will be here for a longer period of time because we are vulnerable.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza