Health department ‘still investigating’ PH’s 4th monkeypox case, says patient had no travel history

The Department of Health (DOH) said it was still investigating the source of infection of the Philippines’ fourth monkeypox case after it was reported that the patient has no history of travel to countries with documented reports of the disease.

DOH announced on Monday evening that a 25-year-old individual tested positive for monkeypox through an RT-PCR test on Friday and has been checked into an isolation facility.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, the health department admitted it was still trying to find the source of the patient’s infection.

“Until now, we are still trying to investigate and elicit information to establish the source of infection of our fourth case,” DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vergeire added that they were monitoring 14 of the patient’s close contacts.

“All of these 14 close contacts of the fourth case do not have any symptoms at all. This is what we are looking at right now in order to establish the source of infection.”

Officials said all four confirmed monkeypox cases in the Philippines are unrelated.

That said, DOH has refrained from classifying case no. 4 as a local transmission, despite the patient not having any travel history.

The circumstances of the case have raised concern among social media users.

“This is so alarming. No travel history means the virus is here, spreading,” one user worried.

“I wonder how many of us are carriers whose symptoms have not showed up yet,” another one said.

“And still, we do not have a DOH secretary appointed!” another user complained, referring to the fact that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has yet to appoint a secretary to head the Department of Health amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak.

Another also wondered why it took the health department three days to announce the confirmation of a fourth case.

“They suppressed news for 3 days? They already confirmed a positive result last Friday.”

The World Health Organization said that transmission could result “from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects” and added that transmission through respiratory particles requires prolonged face-to-face contact.

The incubation period for monkeypox usually ranges from six to 13 days but can also range from 5 to 21 days.