As monkeypox spreads around the world, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) has set up a Public Health Crisis Command Centre to monitor the situation worldwide and set short-, mid and long-term response strategies.
Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, DDC director-general, said on Sunday that the centre was established in response to widespread interest in the spread of monkeypox, especially reports of cases in the United Kingdom.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a statement confirming around 80 monkeypox infections worldwide with another 50 cases being investigated in at least 11 countries.
The WHO has conceded that more cases are expected in a number of countries after initial infections were recorded in the UK among travellers who had recently visited Nigeria.
Confirmed instances of monkeypox have so far been reported in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Greece.
While affirming no such cases have yet been found in Thailand, Dr Opas acknowledged the risk posed by the country’s reopening to travellers.
The DDC’s international communicable disease unit reported that from May 1 to 22, a total 13,142 people from the UK entered Thailand, along with 1,351 from Spain and 268 from Portugal. Monitoring of such arrivals has been elevated in light of the disease’s spread in other countries.
Dr Opas urged close monitoring of developments and recommended people travelling to countries with known monkeypox cases to avoid contacting possible carrier animals, especially primates.
If contact occurs, they should quickly wash their hands with soap. Travellers should practice Universal Prevention and avoid coming into contact with the excretions of animals or undercooked animal products.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Sunday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed the Public Health Ministry to monitor developments in emerging monkeypox outbreaks in some 10 countries.
Gen Prayut wanted the ministry to provide information on the viral disease and ways to prevent transmission to the people so that they would stay informed and not panic, Mr Thanakorn said.