Monkeypox is not like Covid-19: Health Minister

Public health declaration and the training of clinicians and health workers are some of the interventions that the MoH has adopted to be prepared against monkeypox

While worldwide monkeypox cases have been increasing at an alarming rate, Bhutan has also been made aware of this by the first mortality case in India, Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said.

Lyonpo shared that preparation has been ongoing for the prevention of monkeypox, and the ministry’s intervention has also begun.

However, people have been fearful about monkeypox due to the disease’s quick spread and the nearly six reported deaths it has caused worldwide, one of which was discovered in Kerala, India.

“In terms of Bhutan, even prior to the WHO declaring it as a public health emergency of international concern, we started doing public health declaration and now we have all the health declarations in all the entry points, borders, and airports where people have traveled from high-risk areas,” the minister said.

In addition, Lyonpo advised the populace to report any symptoms they may have so that the country’s health team could conduct screening at all points of entry and will have the ability to detect the disease.

Another intervention for the early detection from the ministry, according to the Lyonpo, is the training of all the clinicians and health workers.

“We trained our health workers as per the guidelines of the monkeypox which have been developed in June this year,” Lyonpo said, adding that the health team has been trained on how to detect, collect the samples, monitor the cases, and such.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dechen Wangmo also divulged that monkeypox is not a novel disease like covid 19, nor it is a new disease.

“It’s just that this time around, it is spreading to other countries; around 78 countries have detected this,” Lyonpo added.

For the readiness of testing, Lyonpo shared that the ministry already has all the testing kits ready, where they can do testing and for clinical management, they have already trained the health workers to look out for risk factors.

However, following the WHO’s declaration that monkeypox is a global health emergency, the public has been extremely concerned and has compared it to COVID-19.

Lyonpo claimed that monkeypox would differ greatly from covid 19 and that the ministry will administer vaccinations by “Ring vaccination” rather than herd vaccination.

“The ring vaccination vaccinates the persons who have direct contact with those contacts. In this manner, the vaccine is given to everyone who has been exposed to or potentially has been exposed to a smallpox patient and not everyone in the community,” Lyonpo shared.

Lyonpo also urged all people to take care of themselves especially as the flu season is coming and those who have symptoms of monkeypox like rash, fever, chills, body ache, fatigue, respiratory symptoms, and swollen lymph nodes to consult a doctor for early detection.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu