Philippines confirms first monkeypox case

·2 min read
Health care workers protest in front of the Department of Health in Manila, Philippines.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - SEPTEMBER 01: Health care workers hold a protest in front of the Department of Health to demand better wages and benefits amid rising COVID-19 cases in Manila, Philippines on September 1, 2021. (Photo by Dante Diosina Jr./Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that the first case of monkeypox in the Philippines was detected on Friday (July 29).

This despite the country is dealing with a double whammy of COVID-19 and dengue while a permanent health secretary is yet to be appointed.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has long been criticized for the slow appointment of some executive positions. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary position, for instance, was only filled in by Antonio Yulo-Loyzaga on July 19 – over two weeks since Marcos was sworn in as president.

Akalain mo yun, nauna pa magka monkeypox sa Pilipinas kesa magkaroon ng Secretary ang Department of Health (Would you believe it, monkeypox was first to arrive than the Secretary of the Department of Health),” Lean Porquia, labor rights advocate and social media user said. “Marcos is a weak president.”

On Tuesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros, in a press conference with Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, was also one of those who questioned why Marcos Jr. has yet to appoint a health chief, especially with the “heavy challenge” the Department has to face.

"Mas mabigat ang hamon sa DOH na siguraduhin ang kalusugan at kaligtasan. So bakit OIC pa rin ang nakatalaga hanggang ngayon?"

(The challenge is heavier for the DOH to ensure health and safety. So how come an OIC is still responsible for it until now?)

As of writing, the OIC of DOH is Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, who served as the agency’s spokesperson under Presidents Benigno Aquino III and Rodrigo Duterte.

However, the agency assured the public that the confirmed case “has been discharged well and is undergoing strict isolation and monitoring at home. The case has 10 close contacts, all currently with no symptoms and were advised to undergo isolation.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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