We needn't worry too much about monkeypox, Indonesia's Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said, as the disease mostly causes unsavory cosmetic changes and not fatalities.
During a recent press conference on global health issues, Budi gave his frank assessment on monkeypox, calling on the nation to not be alarmed about the disease.
"You'd look ugly, definitely, but at least you'll survive," the minister said in jest, after outlining monkeypox's relatively low transmissibility and fatality rate, particularly compared to COVID-19.
As of Aug. 23, 44,503 people have been confirmed to have monkeypox globally in 96 countries. From those, 12 have died.
Indonesia reported its first confirmed monkeypox case over the weekend, that of a 27-year-old man in Jakarta who had recently returned from an overseas trip. The patient is self-isolating, has not shown any severe symptoms, and is expected to fully recover.
"As for treating [monkeypox], you don't have to worry too much. The fatality rate is low, the hospitalization rate is low, and those who died did not die directly from the virus, but because of secondary infections from their infected skin," Budi added.
One of the most commonly reported symptoms of monkeypox are blister-like lesions that are usually concentrated in the genital area. Others include headaches, fever, muscle aches, exhaustion, rashes and spots, the latter two of which were likely what the minister was alluding to in regards to a patient's outward appearance.
One may appreciate Budi's attempt to steer the public clear of alarmism regarding monkeypox, and global data on the disease suggests he is right to do so. At the very least, he did not follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Terawan Agus Putranto, who, when little was known about COVID-19 and Indonesia had yet to confirm a single case, claimed that the country was shielded from the coronavirus thanks to prayer.