NTF adviser sees no need to close borders amid monkeypox threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — A medical adviser of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 said that monkeypox cases reported in other countries are not grounds to close the country's borders, but stressed that monitoring and preparedness will continue.

"Hindi siya mystery illness kagaya nung nag-umpisa 'yung Covid-19 na napilitan tayong magsara ng borders," Dr. Ted Herbosa said in a public briefing on Saturday, referring to the dreaded monkeypox.

"Nakita nyo naman, ang pagsara ng borders, malaki ang epekto sa turismo, ekonomiya, at supply chain ng ating goods and services," he explained. "Kaya hindi sapat o hindi tama na magclose down (ng borders)."

[Translation: Monkeypox is not a mystery illness like Covid-19 which forced us to close our borders. You have seen how this affected tourism, the economy, and supply chain of goods and services. So it's not enough nor right to close down our borders.]

According to Herbosa, monkeypox is considered as a re-emerging infectious disease.

"Itong monkeypox ay na-detect noong 1958 pa sa Africa," he said. "Kaya ito naging balita sapagkat nung isang araw, they identified 85 cases of monkeypox sa iba't-ibang bansa na nirereport ito."

[Translation: Monkeypox was first detected in 1958 in Africa. It grabbed headlines after 85 cases were reported in various countries the other day.]

Vaccine for monkeypox

Experts said the smallpox vaccine may be used against the disease, Herbosa added, but a specified one can be developed.

"Sinasabi ng mga eksperto na yung smallpox vaccine, kamag-anak ito ng monkeypox, same family sila, maaaring magawang bakuna at pupwedeng epektibo dito sa monkeypox," he said.

[Monkeypox and smallpox belong in the same family. According to experts, the smallpox vaccine may be used and might be effective against the monkeypox.]

"Pwede tayong makagawa ng bakuna against monkeypox, baka mas mabilis pa kaysa dun sa ginawa natin sa Covid-19," Herbosa said.

[We can make a vaccine against monkeypox, probably faster than the one we did for Covid-19.]

The Department of Health on Friday announced that the disease has not been detected in the country but vowed to monitor its global developments.

READ: DOH: No cases of monkeypox in PH; gov't 'intensifying' border screening

The department also urged the public to observe minimum health protocols to prevent its transmission.