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ECONOMYNEXT – As Sri Lanka confirms its second case of monkeypox, health authorities say infections have been contained and there is no need to deploy a vaccine yet.
However, if the need for a vaccine arises, authorities will take steps to import it, an official said.
Sri Lanka recently announced that some seven million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that were to be given as a booster shot for COVID-19 were to be thrown away as no one showed up to receive the vaccine.
Sri Lanka detected its second case of monkeypox on Wednesday 09 November, Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said.
Herath told EconomyNext that the Chief Health Officer will issue a detailed statement on the patient later in the day.
Meanwhile, Association of Laboratory Professionals President Ravi Kumudesh said it was suspected the latest patient was a recent arrival on the island who contracted the virus around a month ago.
Media reported that the patient had returned on November 1 from Dubai, where the first patient had also arrived from, had gone to a sexually transmitted disease clinic to be tested. The Medical Research Institute confirmed that the patient had contracted the virus.
Health officials have said Sri Lanka does not need a monkeypox virus vaccine at the moment but, if the need arises, the authorities will intervene.
A 19-year-old returnee from the Middle East was identified as a patient with monkeypox last week after voluntarily being tested for any sexually transmitted disease after experiencing symptoms.
Health officials said the patient was gradually recovering at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH).
“In Europe and other western parts of the world where the cases are high and this exposure is also significant, a post-exposure vaccine is used. However, there is no recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) or any other international institute to use a vaccine,” said Chinthana Perera, community medicine specialist at the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health.
“There is no need for a vaccine at the moment for Sri Lanka, and if the need arises, the health authorities will take action to obtain a vaccine.”
Sri Lanka has tested seven suspected monkeypox cases and has only confirmed two so far. Officials said relatives and other contacts of the first infected patient have been tested, but no positive cases have yet been identified.
“This is a disease contracted through skin contact, and you have to have skin-to-skin contact for a significant amount of time to contract this virus,” Perera said.
According to the WHO in 2022, a total of 78,628 cases of monkeypox were confirmed in 110 countries.
Since 1 January 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported to WHO by 110 Member States across all six WHO regions. As of November 7, 3,703 probable cases have been recorded, including 41 deaths at WHO.
Since May 13, a high proportion of these cases have been reported in countries with no previously documented transmission of monkeypox.
“This is the first time that cases and long-lasting chains of transmission have been reported in countries with no direct or immediate epidemiological links to parts of West or Central Africa,” the WHO said.
“With the exception of West and Central African countries, the current monkeypox epidemic continues to primarily affect men who have sex with men who have reported recent sex with one or more partners. . At present, there are no signals suggesting sustained transmission beyond these networks. (Colombo/09/11/2022)