A Nigerian man on the run after becoming Thailand’s first case of monkeypox was found in Phnom Penh on Saturday and taken to hospital, Cambodia’s health ministry said.
It comes on the same day that officials at the World Health Organization in Geneva declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency on Saturday.
The 27-year-old tourist, who overstayed his visa in Thailand, was diagnosed with monkeypox in the resort town of Phuket on Monday, a Thai health official said.
During his stay in Phuket, the man had visited two entertainment venues and 142 people were now being screened for the virus, a health official said, adding that the man also had unprotected sex with a woman.
After learning of his diagnosis, he fled his accommodation in Phuket, turned off his phone and did not respond to messages from police or health workers.
His escape sparked a manhunt across Thailand, and authorities said his phone signal was spotted in a northeastern province bordering Cambodia on Saturday.
After searching several locations on Saturday, Cambodian police found the runaway at a guest house in Phnom Penh and has since been taken to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital for medical treatment.
“In order to prevent monkeypox virus infection, the Ministry of Health urges all people who have direct contact with the Nigerian patient to self-isolate and undergo health checks,” the Cambodian ministry said in a statement.
According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox is not as contagious as the corona virus.
But since a wave of infections was reported outside of west and central African countries – where the disease was endemic – in early May, more than 16,800 people in 74 countries have been affected, according to a tally released this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a study of 528 people in 16 countries published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 95 percent of cases were transmitted through sexual activity — the largest study to date.
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