Health Minister: Monkeypox Might Eventually Reach S’pore But Unlikely to be a Pandemic


While COVID-19 may already feel like the new norm, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of another “new” disease going around that makes it feel like we’re going to relive the COVID-19 pandemic all over again.


And if you still have no idea what monkeypox is all about, no, it won’t turn you into a monkey.

But seriously, if you don’t know what this virus is all about, we’ve got you covered:

With symptoms such as fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes, and painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet, it’s clear that you don’t want to get this disease for obvious reasons.

As of now, there are two main strains of the virus that carry different mortality rates. The Congo strain has a 10% mortality rate, while the West African strain has a 1% mortality rate.

Though the name suggests that it’s spread through monkeys, its main carriers are actually rodents. It was just first found in monkeys back in the 1950s, giving it the name monkeypox. (Yes, it’s not a new virus. Welcome to 2022.)

So for those NTU students who’ve had their fair share of monkey attacks in hall, at least that’s something to be relieved about for now lah.

And if you’re wondering if monkeypox has anything to do with chickenpox, they have pretty similar symptoms, but monkeypox is more life-threatening for sure.

There is currently no vaccine available for monkeypox, but past studies have shown that smallpox vaccines have up to 85% effectiveness in preventing monkeypox.

Current State of Monkeypox Outbreak

Recently, over 200 cases have been found in over 20 countries across the world, and let’s just say that it might feel like déjà vu.

However, even though it may seem like a repeat of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) mentioned that the outbreaks are still “contained” for now.

Over a hundred of these cases have been found in European countries.

But for those who are absolutely terrified and ready to enter a monkeypox-induced lockdown, here’s some good news for you: the monkeypox outbreak probably won’t be as bad as COVID-19, at least according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Health Minister’s Opinion

Yesterday (28 May), Minister Ong Ye Kung uploaded the following post to his Facebook page:


In the post, he addressed the issue of monkeypox spreading across the world and how it might eventually affect Singapore.

“It is a virus that has likely jumped from animals, such as rodents, to human beings, in certain regions of Africa,” he explained.

He also brought up how the World Health Assembly discussed the disease that “is no longer a rare disease confined to certain places in Africa” and noted how the disease is currently transmitted through humans.

Possible Impact on Singapore

The Health Minister then touched on the fact that we might see cases start being detected, and that “we should not be surprised” since “as our people travel widely and we are a commercial and international hub”.


“Thankfully we have in place the necessary protocols and public health measures, triggered by an imported case in 2019,” he revealed.

Monkeypox Not Likely to Turn Into a Pandemic

And for those worried if we might go back to another Circuit Breaker due to this monkeypox situation, here’s some good news for you.

According to the Health Minister, it is “very unlikely” that monkeypox triggers a pandemic like COVID-19 since “it is transmitted mostly by close physical contact, and not airborne like COVID-19, which transmits more quickly and widely”.

He also explained that the incubation lasts around one to three weeks while the symptoms may last for two to four weeks.

“The typical monkeypox rash lesions then develops around the face/mouth or genital areas, before the rash spreads all over the body,” he wrote.

“It may look like a common chickenpox rash to the layperson and therefore review by a doctor is important. It can cause severe illness and deaths in a small percentage of patients.”


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He also urged those who experience “new unexplained” rashes to visit a doctor immediately even if they have not been travelling as of late.

This will ensure early intervention and treatment.

“Most often it is due to another common disease like chickenpox, but if you have monkeypox, then you can receive appropriate care and prevent spread to people around you.”

“As for the general public, avoid close contact with individuals who are unwell with fever or have a pox-like rash. It is always good to maintain high standards of personal hygiene at all times, including washing of hands with soap before touching your face,” he concluded.

In response, there were netizens in the comments section who suggested Work-from-Home (WFH) arrangements as a precaution in case an outbreak actually happens in Singapore, while others also brought up the importance of strengthening our immune systems apart from observing personal hygiene.


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Featured Image: Berkay Ataseven /