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ECONOMYNEXT – As Sri Lanka confirms its second case of monkeypox, health authorities say infections have been contained and that there is no need yet for a vaccine to be rolled out.

However, if the need arose for a vaccine, the authorities will take measures to import it, an official said.

Sri Lanka recently announced that some seven million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was to be administered as the booster shot for COVID-19 had to be discarded as no one came forward to get the jab.

Sri Lanka detected its second case of monkeypox on Wednesday November 09, Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said.

Herath told EconomyNext that the Director General of Health Services will issue a detailed statement on the patient within the day.

Meanwhile, President of the Laboratory Professionals Association Ravi Kumudesh said it is suspected that the latest patient was a recent arrival in the island who had contracted the virus about a month ago.

Media reports said the patient had returned on November 01, from Dubai, where the first patient had also arrived from, gone to a Sexually Transmitted Diseases clinic to do a test. The Medical Research Institute has confirmed the patient had contracted the virus.

Health officials said Sri Lanka does not need a vaccine for the monkeypox virus at the moment but, if the need arose, the authorities would step in.

A 19-year-old returnee from the middle east was identified as a monkeypox patient last week after he voluntarily went to test for any Sexually Transmitted diseases after experiencing symptoms.

Health officials said the patient is currently recovering gradually at the National Institute for infectious Diseases (IDH).

“In Europe and other western regions of the world where cases are high and where this much exposure, a post-exposure vaccine is being used. However there is no recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) or any other international institute to use any vaccine,” Chinthana Perera, Community Medicine Specialist at the health ministry’s epidemiology unit said.

“There is no need of a vaccine at the moment for Sri Lanka, and if the necessity arises, health authorities will take measures to secure a vaccine”.

Sri Lanka has tested seven suspected cases of monkeypox and confirmed only two cases so far. Officials said the relatives and other contacts of the first infected patient were tested, but no positive cases have been identified yet.

“This is a disease contracted through skin contact, and you have to have skin to skin contact for a considerable time in order to contract this virus,” said Perera.

According to WHO in 2022, a total of 78,628 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in 110 countries.

Since January 01, 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported to WHO from 110 member states across all six WHO regions. As of November 07, 3,703 probable cases have been recorded, including 41 deaths to WHO.

Since May 13, a high proportion of these cases have been reported from countries without previously documented monkeypox transmission.

“This is the first time that cases and sustained chains of transmission have been reported in countries without direct or immediate epidemiological links to areas of West or Central Africa,” WHO said.

“With the exception of countries in West and Central Africa, the ongoing outbreak of monkeypox continues to primarily affect men who have sex with men who have reported recent sex with one or multiple partners. At present there is no signal suggesting sustained transmission beyond these networks.” (Colombo/Nov09/2022)

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