The condition of the Nigerian monkeypox patient currently under treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital was stable with no sign of serious illness as of the afternoon of July 25, according to Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine.

Osmond Chihazirim Nzerem, 27, was apprehended on July 22 after fleeing to Cambodia from Thailand a day earlier. The authorities also tried to track down anyone who was known to have had close contact with him, with five people having been located and quarantined.

Vandine said Nzerem’s health was normal and without any sign of serious illness, though doctors continue to closely monitor his health as well as the conditions of the five people, who had not shown any sign of infection as of press time.

Thailand-based newspaper The Bangkok Post reported on July 25 that Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had indicated that they had “no plans” to seek the return of the Nigerian monkeypox patient from Cambodia.

Vandine said the ultimate fate of Nzerem will depend on the procedures as stated in Cambodian law, but those legal proceedings will only commence after he fully recovers from the disease.

“For the Nigerian man with monkeypox, we are focused on providing treatment based on the real conditions of his disease until he recovers. Then we will inform the public about the next steps the government will take and it will depend on our leaders and authorities. On the health side of things, we’re just focused on caring for him and treating him until he recovers,” she said.

Vandine noted that the transmission of monkeypox is only through direct contact with the patient, fluids or items used by the patient, which is different from Covid-19, since that could spread through small droplets of fluid from the patient normally expelled through coughing and sneezing.

“Monkeypox is not highly contagious like Covid-19. It spreads only through direct contact with the patient,” she said, adding that eating well-cooked food, being hygienic and staying away from bush meat are the most important prevention measures.

Vandine urged the public to call hotline 115 should they have suspicious symptoms.

The World Health Organisation on July 24 declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”, calling on all countries to take serious measures against its spread. The disease has now been found in 75 countries.

Although monkeypox has been declared a global health emergency, the WHO noted that out of the roughly 14,000 confirmed cases worldwide, there have only been five known deaths due to the disease thus far. It is typically easy to treat and cure in most individuals by using existing medications designed for monkeypox’s far more deadly cousin, smallpox, it said.