City’s public health services and officials are monitoring all public health facilities to identify possible new cases and track the activities of those who may be infected by the disease. It comes as a top medical practitioner in Phuket, where the first case was detected last week, wants the government to allow lower-level laboratories to be allowed to test for the disease.

Thailand has reported its second case of monkeypox. A 47-year-old man is being treated at Vajira Hospital in Bangkok as the capital city remains on high alert for more cases with a special focus being placed on hotspots frequented by foreigners visiting the city. One of the country’s leading virologists, however, has insisted it is not something the public should be too worried about although he points out that monkeypox may be here to stay.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul (centre), on Thursday, confirmed the second monkeypox case which has been detected in Bangkok. It comes as the city’s authorities under the leadership of Governor Chadchart Sittipunt (inset centre) have ramped up preparations and alert levels for an outbreak of the disease while a top Thai virologist tells the public there is little cause to worry.

Thailand has announced its second case of monkeypox, this time in the kingdom’s capital with an infected 47-year-old man telling authorities that he had sexual relations with foreign men.

The news was confirmed on Thursday by Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul who revealed the man presented himself at Vajira Hospital, in the Dusit area of the city, two weeks ago on July 12th with an illness.

Recovering man being observed and treated in hospital for 21 days after developing extensive blisters

Two days after this, the man is understood to have developed a high fever and blisters on his body.

He again reported to the hospital where he was found to have enlarged lymph nodes and extensive blisters on his genital area, legs, trunk and face. 

He is receiving medical treatment at the hospital for the infection with doctors there saying that he will be held for a 21-day period so that his condition can be observed.

Test results on the man conducted by the Medical Science Department at the Ministry of Public Health confirmed that the infection is the monkeypox virus although authorities have not yet revealed the strain.

The man is reportedly a homosexual who engaged in homosexual intercourse with foreign men.

He lives at a residence with ten other men who are all now considered to be high risk and are the subject of screening and testing.

Investigation and tracking by authorities has widened to include all 10 men living at the same address

Authorities are also widening their investigation to trace contacts of the other men, particularly contacts where sexual relations took place. 

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong of the Department of Disease Control has sent a report to Minister Anutin on the situation including the finalised test results from the Medical Science Department.

The news, this week, follows the announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in Geneva last weekend, that designated the current outbreak of the disease across the globe as ‘a Public Health Emergency of international concern’ and confirmation of Thailand’s first case in Phuket, days before, in a Nigerian national from Abuja who entered the country on October 21st last year.

First case of monkeypox, Nigerian now being treated at a hospital in Phnom Penh who will face charges

That man is now being treated by a hospital in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh with authorities in Thailand and Cambodia confirming that he illegally crossed the border into the eastern kingdom last week.

This was confirmed by Police Colonel Rung Thongmon, the Immigration Bureau chief in Sa Kaeo Province, over the weekend with reports that Cambodian authorities will prosecute the 27-year-old when he finally recovers.

He faces charges of illegally entering the neighbouring country.

On July 24th, the Minister of Public Health confirmed the situation saying Thai authorities were perfectly happy to leave the man in Cambodian hands where he will receive treatment.

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt puts capital on alert focused on haunts popular with foreigners

On Monday this week, as officials in Thailand from the Prime Minister’s Office down remained on high alert for the disease, attention had already been turning to Bangkok where Governor Chadchart Sittipunt ordered preparations by the city’s public health services and close monitoring of Bangkok’s Nigerian community, particularly in the Nana highlife entertainment area as well as foreigners and hotels used by foreign guests.

In addition, all medical centres and clinics were briefed, ordered to be aware of the disease and ready to identify cases.

‘A close watch is being kept on at-risk communities, such as in Soi Nana where Nigerian nationals gather,’ said Mr Chadchart who is also being urged by the central government to closely monitor the public health situation overall in the capital as foreign tourist numbers in the city steadily increase. 

Phuket medical health official calls for more test sites by allowing lower-level testing under the law

At the same time, in Phuket, another foreign tourists hotspot, where the first monkeypox case was detected, the Director-general of the Department of Medical Services on the island, Dr Supakit Sirilak, has called for permission from the government for biosafety level 2 laboratories to be allowed test for the monkeypox pathogen.

This is currently restricted by the Pathogens and Animals Toxins Act (2015) which prescribes that any test for the disease must be conducted only at Level 3 facilities.

This request is currently being considered by the Ministry of Public Health.

Top virologist urges the public not to worry

Amid heightened fears caused by the first cases and confirmation, last weekend, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of an emergency, Thailand’s leading virologist, Dr Yong Poovorawan, has emerged to assure the public that the disease is not serious with a fatality rate of 3 to 10,000 while governments officials have emphasised that it is quite difficult to contract it as it usually involves intimate relations between people for this to occur.

However, it is also clear that the disease may well be here to stay as it spreads worldwide.

‘Any disease that is transmitted through contact during sex is hard to control or eliminate, and so is monkeypox,’ Dr Yong said in a social media post on Facebook. ‘The only way is to administer effective vaccines to as many people as possible. We will have to continue to live with this disease.’

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Further reading:

Mysterious African monkeypox sufferer arrested after illegally crossing the border into Cambodia

Monkeypox case in Thailand confirmed in transit passenger at Suvarnabhumi Airport last week

Thailand Pass to be used in Monkeypox screening at airports with new RT-PCR test for the disease