UAE officials urge caution after first monkeypox case confirmed

Ministry of Health calls on public to follow precautionary measures to limit risk of infection

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Related: UAE records first monkeypox case

UAE authorities have called on the public to remain vigilant to limit the risk of contracting the monkeypox virus after the country confirmed its first case on Tuesday.

Dr Fatima Al Attar, head of International Health Regulations at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, said on Wednesday all medical bodies in the country were "studying and evaluating the situation" to ensure their "readiness" to monitor for potential further cases.

People were urged to take all "preventative measures in order to prevent and reduce the risk of infection", she added during the country's regular Covid-19 media briefing.

This included maintaining personal hygiene and avoiding contact with anyone who has skin rashes.

The first confirmed case in the Emirates was detected in a 29-year-old woman from a West African nation, although officials did not specify which.

Officials said she was receiving necessary medical care and was a visitor to the Emirates.

At the weekend, officials urged hospitals and health facilities nationwide to immediately report suspected cases for further investigation.

Over the past few days, several European and North American countries — including Britain, France and the US — have reported cases of the rare virus, which is endemic in parts of Africa.

Medical authorities have said, however, that the risk that the disease will spread widely is low.

Dr Al Attar also urged the public to follow official sources of information on the virus and to avoid spreading rumours online, which may result in legal action.

What are the symptoms and how is it treated?

Most monkeypox patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

In general, recovery takes about two to four weeks without the need to be admitted to hospital, but monkeypox can be fatal in up to 6 per cent of cases and is thought to be more severe in children.

Smallpox vaccines are effective against monkeypox and antiviral drugs are also being developed.

The World Health Organisation estimates there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about a dozen African countries every year. Most are in Congo, which reports about 6,000 cases annually, and Nigeria, with about 3,000 cases a year.

Public urged to remain responsible in Covid-19 fight

During the briefing, the public was asked to remain responsible to support the country's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

People were reminded to continue to wear face masks when mandated and to isolate in case of infection.

Dr Taher Al-Buraik Al-Amiri, spokesman for the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority, said the UAE remained on "the right track" in its efforts to overcome the coronavirus.

But he stressed the need to continue to abide by safety measures which remain in place to limit the spread of the virus.

Covid-19 infection rates have fallen significantly during the course of the year, aided by comprehensive testing and vaccination drives.

Daily case numbers topped 3,000 in January, but have remained below 400 since March 7.

No coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the same period.

Updated: May 25, 2022, 3:32 PM
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