A member of British Airways cabin crew has tested positive for Monkeypox during a layover in Singapore, becoming the Asian city’s first known case of the viral zoonotic disease.
On Tuesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health confirmed it had detected a singular imported case of Monkeypox in a 42-year-old British flight attendant who had been in Singapore between 15th and 17th June and then returned to the city on 19th June.
The male flight attendant tested positive for Monkeypox on 20th June after initially suffering from a flu-like illness before developing skin rashes which are a common tell-tale symptom of Monkeypox.
The crew member is said to be in a “stable conditon” and has been moved to an isolation ward at Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
Contact tracers have already identified 13 close contacts who have all been placed under a 21-day quarantine. Some of the close contacts are believed to be other British Airways cabin crew members.
Two other contacts have been deemed to be low-risk contacts and will be subject to regular telephone checkups but won’t be placed into quarantine.
The Ministry of Health does not believe passengers are at risk as Monkey generally transmits only through close physical or prolonged contact. The incubation ranges from five to 21 days.
As a result of so many crew being placed into mandatory quarantine, British Airways was forced to delay its flagship Singapore to London service on Tuesday night. The flight is now not scheduled to depart until Wednesday evening with an entirely new crew.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Monkeypox primarily occurs in central and west Africa but Europe has become the epicentre of a recent outbreak that has disproportionately affected gay and bisexual men.
On Tuesday, the British Health Security Agency said the most at-risk groups including frontline health workers and gay and bisexual men who have sex with mem (GBMSM) should be offered the Imvanex smallpox vaccine which is highly effective against the Monkeypox virus.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA said that most Monkeypox cases are “mild” but that “severe illness can occur in some people”.
While eligible groups are waiting for the vaccine, Dr Ramsay urged people “to be alert to any new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body, particularly if they’ve had close contact with a new partner”.
British Airways has been contacted for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.