This undated file image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue), cultured in the laboratory that was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland, US. (NIAID VIA AP)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong has reported its first case of monkeypox, health authorities said on Tuesday, after symptoms were discovered in a 30-year-old man who arrived from the Philippines after traveling in the United States and Canada.

It marks the first imported case in Hong Kong of monkeypox, a viral disease which the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency.

The man, a Hong Kong ID card holder, arrived in Hong Kong on Monday. The patient, who showed symptoms of monkeypox when he stayed in mandatory hotel quarantine, is now being isolated at Queen Mary Hospital, health authorities told a media briefing on Tuesday.

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Authorities said the case was classified as an imported one and the financial hub has not had any local monkeypox cases so far.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government will raise the response level for the monkeypox outbreak to an "alert" level

Edwin Tsui, Controller, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government will raise the response level for the monkeypox outbreak to an "alert" level, said Edwin Tsui, controller of Centre for Health Protection of Department of Health, at the same briefing.

Monkeypox typically causes mild symptoms including fever, aches and skin lesions.

More than 90 countries and regions where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks, as confirmed cases crossed 52,700 and non-endemic regions reported their first related deaths.

The HKSAR government is expected to procure a vaccine against monkeypox this month and said it has stepped up surveillance for the virus amongst travelers and within the local community.

In a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the CHP, said the man began to develop a skin rash on Aug 30, and it later spread to other parts of his body, with symptoms including swollen lymph glands and a sore throat. On Monday, he checked into the Ramada Hong Kong Harbour View hotel on Queen’s Road West on Hong Kong Island.

The man, who flew into the city on Philippine Airlines Flight PR300, tested positive for the virus on Tuesday at Queen Mary Hospital, after his skin had developed blisters.

CHP Controller Edwin Tsui Lok-kin said the government is procuring monkeypox vaccines that are expected to be available this month.

Tsui said those exposed to the virus, who are close contacts of the patient, including medical and lab personnel, will be given priority in terms of vaccinations. Close contacts will be placed in a 21-day quarantine because of the virus’s long incubation period.

The government will raise its response level toward the virus to the “alert” level in its three-scale response plan, and called on doctors in the city to be on alert about the virus.

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Monkeypox cases have been reported globally, especially in Europe and North America, since mid-May.

According to a CHP statement earlier in August, most of these cases were identified among men who had sex with men and then sought medical help in primary-care and sexual-health clinics. On July 23, WHO declared the global monkeypox outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”.

The statement said monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus. Symptoms include fever, intense headaches, muscle pain, and lymphadenopathy, a lymph-node disease, in the first few days of infection. Lesions in the mouth and a rash on the body may appear about one to three days after the patient gets a fever. Monkeypox symptoms last 14 to 21 days, with the fatality rate in previous monkeypox outbreaks being 1 to 10 percent.

Human-to-human transmission is also possible through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact or direct contact with bodily fluids, according to the center’s official website.

With agencies’ inputs