Missing monkeypox patient caught in Cambodia as Thailand on high alert

Airport arrivals are screened for monkeypox risk in May. Photo: Department of Disease Control
Airport arrivals are screened for monkeypox risk in May. Photo: Department of Disease Control

A monkeypox patient who fled quarantine on Phuket was arrested in Cambodia, and health officials are on the lookout for more.

Osmond Chihazirim Nzerem, 27 of Nigeria, was caught by local police in Phnom Penh days after he was diagnosed with the viral disease and vanished from Phuket. He was taken to the Khmer–Soviet Friendship Hospital for treatment and quarantine. 

Phuket officials said no other cases have been found so far. Lab results found two people who came into close contact with Nzerem were healthy. Tests on 17 others are underway. All are under 21-day quarantine.

After the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Saturday, Thai health officials said Sunday they established disease control and immigration checkpoints nationwide to screen people infected with the disease.

Meanwhile, at least eight cases have been found so far in Singapore. 

Bangkok Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt said he would discuss preventive measures with his team today.

Monkeypox is contracted after a person is in prolonged physical contact with an infected individual, including sex. The first major study of its spread found it overwhelmingly affecting men having sex with other men.

Symptoms include headache, fever, muscle aches, exhaustion, rash, spots, and blister-like lesions usually concentrated in the genital area.

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