The Ministry of Health is monitoring an outbreak of Langya henipavirus (LayV) which has infected 35 people. This was confirmed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram on Wednesday, at the ministry’s virtual press briefing.
"I think if COVID has taught us anything, it is to be on the alert for new viruses, especially with the way persons travel. A virus could be in one part of the world and then in another during that same day, so it is something that we have to keep a very close eye on, look at the spread and see what is happening and see if it is able to be spread from person to person and then, of course, take the necessary steps," he said.
Dr Parasram said the ministry is awaiting further updates on the outbreak from the International Health Regulations' network.
"But it's something that we will keep a very close eye on," he said.
LayV is a zoonotic virus (originating in animals) that can jump over and infect humans. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than six out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.
The novel Langya henipavirus was found in 35 patients in the Shandong and Henan provinces, many with symptoms such as fever, fatigue and a cough.
The discovery was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 4, titled: "A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China."