Man Confirmed to Be Thailand’s First Monkeypox Case Goes Missing

A nurse prepares the Monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A 27-year-old Nigerian went missing from Phuket, Thailand, in recent days after health officials informed him that he tested positive for monkeypox, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported Friday, noting that the African’s infection marked Thailand’s first-ever monkeypox case.

“The first case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Thailand, but the patient, a 27-year-old Nigerian man, went missing after being informed of his positive test result on Monday (Jul 18),” Singapore’s CNA news outlet reported on July 22.

The man was visiting Thailand’s popular resort island of Phuket on July 16 when he checked into a local hospital presenting monkeypox-like symptoms. Health officials for the hospital told CNA that they “took a blood sample from the patient and performed swabs for laboratory tests” on July 16. The result returned positive for the monkeypox virus on July 18.

“On Jul[y] 18, at about 6pm, we knew the result from the first laboratory test at Chulalongkorn University [sic]. After learning the result, the hospital called the patient to arrange his transfer for medical treatments but he refused and switched off his phone,” Dr. Koosak Kookiatkul, director of Phuket’s Public Health Office, told reporters at a press conference on July 22.

Thailand health authorities said they managed to track some of the man’s movements via CCTV footage, though they had yet to locate the Nigerian national as of July 22. The health officials, along with local authorities on Phuket island, have been trying to find the Nigerian man since July 18 so that they may provide him with medical treatment for his disease and prevent him from spreading monkeypox to other people.

CNA relayed the information on Friday, writing:

According to the Phuket health chief, the patient entered Thailand on Oct 21, 2021 and stayed in a condominium in Phuket’s Patong from November. He often visited entertainment venues in the province. After his hospital visit on Jul[y] 16, the patient was advised to quarantine at his apartment.

However, according to Dr Koosak, closed-circuit television footage showed him leaving his accommodation after being informed of the positive test result on Jul[y] 18 and checking in at a hotel in Patong on the same day.

“On Jul 19, he was still in the premises but didn’t let the staff clean his room. At 9pm, he placed his room key at the reception and left,” Dr Koosak added.

Thai health officials successfully traced two close contacts of the Nigerian monkeypox patient and facilitated their quarantine as of July 22, according to Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, the director-general of Thailand’s Department of Disease Control.

“Based on the disease investigation carried out with two high-risk contacts — the patients’ friends who have not exhibited any symptoms — monkeypox was not detected,” he said during a press briefing at Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health office.

“Nevertheless, they have to be monitored or quarantined for 21 days. More searches for patients have to be conducted in areas at risk such as the entertainment venues they had visited. Meanwhile, the investigation team has disinfected the patient’s room,” Karnkawinpong added.

The missing Nigerian tourist is infected with the West African clade of the monkeypox virus, according to Karnkawinpong.

“Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions,” the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) states on its website. Symptoms of the infectious disease include “fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes.”

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