UAE fully prepared to deal with monkeypox, Ministry of Health says

Hospitals have been asked to report any suspected cases to health authorities

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The UAE is fully prepared to deal with the monkeypox virus, the Ministry of Health and Prevention said on Sunday.

The country has stepped up safety measures to guard against the potential spread of the virus and is investigating and closely monitoring any suspected cases, state news agency Wam said.

The ministry is studying and evaluating the seriousness of the disease locally and has issued a notice to hospitals to report any suspected cases.

“We have put in place precise mechanisms for diagnosis. The technical advisory team for pandemic control has also prepared a comprehensive guide for surveillance, early detection of the disease, management of clinically infected patients and precautionary measures,” the ministry said.

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We have put in place precise mechanisms for diagnosis
Ministry of Health and Prevention

The UAE has prepared in response to reports about outbreaks of monkeypox in a number of countries.

The public should not be misled by rumours or misinformation, officials said. On Friday, health chiefs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai said they were monitoring the situation.

In notices issued on Friday, Abu Dhabi Department of Health and Dubai Health Authority urged medical facilities to remain vigilant.

A circular from Dubai Health Authority told of the need to “enhance and promote the early detection of the disease”.

It said it was “raising the level of epidemiological surveillance of monkeypox cases” in Dubai with immediate effect.

Abu Dhabi Department of Health sent a similar message to healthcare providers.

“The probability of importation of cases to the UAE is high due to the increase in international travel,” the circular said.

“Therefore, all healthcare providers must comply with the following: Enhance vigilance to identify cases fitting the case definition; report any suspected, probable or confirmed case in the Infectious Disease Notification System under occurrence of unusual disease; send clinical rash sample to the reference lab at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.”

On Sunday, Israel became the first country to report monkeypox in the Middle East.

The World Health Organisation has recorded about 80 cases globally, and roughly 50 more suspected cases.

Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa.

But Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who had not travelled to Africa. France, Germany, Belgium and Australia have also identified cases.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare infection usually spread by wild animals in Central and West Africa.

It can be caught from infected wild animals, particularly rodents such as rats, mice and squirrels.

Infection can be by an animal bite or by contact with an animal’s blood or bodily fluids.

It may be possible to catch monkeypox by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been properly cooked.

Human-to-human transmission can occur through touching towels or bedding of a patient, touching monkeypox blisters or by coughs and sneezes.

What are the symptoms?

It takes between five and 21 days for initial symptoms to appear.

These include:

  • high temperature
  • headache
  • muscle ache
  • backache
  • swollen glands
  • shivering and chills
  • exhaustion

The monkeypox rash is a secondary symptom, usually starting on the face and spreading to other parts of the body.

Symptoms usually clear up in two to four weeks.

Updated: May 22, 2022, 8:53 AM
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