‘Yet to diagnose a monkeypox case’

Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Dr. James Fong. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The Health Ministry has released guidelines to all clinicians in public and private sectors to facilitate early case identification of monkeypox.

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong said Fiji was in the middle of chickenpox season, and cases could be mistaken for monkeypox.

“We need to be clear that we have yet to diagnose a case of monkeypox in Fiji,” he said.

Dr Fong said with the current cool and dry season, the ministry had recorded an increasing trend in respiratory infections in children.

He said an increase in admissions in the children’s ward at Colonial War Memorial Hospital had been announced in the past weeks and the samples collected from some of the hospitalised children tested negative for COVID-19 and influenza at Fiji Center for Disease Control.

“A subset of samples sent to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne detected seasonal respiratory viruses that cause the common cold, but may cause severe respiratory illness in children under the age of five.

“It has been expected that as restrictions intended to prevent transmission of COVID-19 were lifted including mandatory masking, physical distancing, and school and border closures other respiratory viruses that normally circulate would begin to re-emerge similar to pre-COVID levels, and possibly even at higher levels due to a decrease in population immunity to seasonal viruses, as cold or flu cases were low during the last two years.”

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