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HCM City intends to ask arrivals to make health declarations to prevent monkeypox

The requirement on medical declarations may cause foreign travelers to hesitate to come to HCM City, epidemiologists say.

HCM City Deputy Mayor Duong Anh Duc has sent a document to the Ministry of Health (MOH), asking for permission to require arrivals to make a medical declaration at their entry to HCM City.

The declaration is intended for preliminary screening. People with suspected symptoms of monkeypox or with related epidemiological factors will be moved to a separate area for screening. The municipal authorities believe that early surveillance of suspected cases is necessary amid the risk of monkeypox penetration.

Dr Do Van Dung, head of Public Health of the HCM City Medicine and Pharmacy University, said Thailand and Singapore are also requesting health declarations. However, the declaration may not be effective, and the requirement may cause inconvenience to travelers.

He said during the incubation period and the onset, infected persons have no symptoms. There might be some symptoms such as fever and headache but these cannot be confirmed by testing.

To test for monkeypox, medical workers have to collect samples from lesions on the smallpox rash. As such, medical declarations do not have much significance in discovering infected people early.

If patients have moved to the next stage of the disease, when they have genital ulcers or an internal rash, the declaration would depend on self-reporting.

He said that if HCM City is the only locality requiring medical declarations, this would not have much significance. Airport gates as well as road gates are important.

Dung mentioned the difficulties travelers once had making medical declarations on apps for Covid-19 screening in the past. If HCM City decides to require health declarations, the procedures need to be simple.

“I think the plan is not really effective,” he said.

Truong Huu Khanh, a respected epidemiologist, also thinks that it would be better not to require medical declarations for travelers entering HCM City, because monkeypox doesn’t spread as strongly as other respiratory diseases, warning that the declaration requirement may be inconvenient for travelers.

He said that it would be ineffective if the declaration is implemented only in HCM City, saying that the city would lose travelers. 

Khanh said that people and medical centers need information about monkeypox. If clinics receive patients who are foreign travelers and have symptoms of the disease, they should report them and follow procedures.

Linh Giao


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