During a layover in Singapore, a member of the British Airways cabin crew tested positive for monkeypox, making him the first known case of the zoonotic virus in that Asian city.
The 42-year-old British flight attendant who had visited Singapore between June 15 and June 17 and returned on June 19 was found to have a single imported case of monkeypox, the Singapore Ministry of Health revealed on Tuesday.
The male flight attendant originally had a flu-like condition before developing skin rashes, which are a typical telltale indication of monkeypox. On June 20, the man tested positive for monkeypox.
The crew member has been sent to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore and is reportedly in a “stable condition.”
13 close contacts have already been found by contact tracers, and they have all been put under a 21-day quarantine. Other British Airways cabin crew personnel are reportedly among of the intimate relationships.
Two more contacts will receive routine phone checks but won’t be quarantined because they have been classified as low-risk contacts.
Passengers are not at risk, according to the Ministry of Health, as monkey typically only spreads through prolonged or close personal contact. Five to 21 days are needed for incubation.
The necessary quarantine of so many crew members prompted British Airways to postpone its primary Singapore to London service on Tuesday night. The flight will now not take off until Wednesday night with a completely new crew.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that monkeypox is primarily found in central and west Africa, but a recent outbreak that has disproportionately impacted gay and bisexual men has moved to Europe.
The Imvanex smallpox vaccine, which is very effective against the monkeypox virus, should be made available to the most vulnerable populations, including frontline healthcare workers and gay and bisexual men who have sex with me (GBMSM), according to the British Health Security Agency on Tuesday.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA said that most Monkeypox cases are “mild” but that “severe illness can occur in some people”.
While eligible groups are waiting for the vaccine, Dr Ramsay urged people “to be alert to any new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body, particularly if they’ve had close contact with a new partner”.