HONOLULU(KHON2) — Health officials believe monkeypox is now in the community. Contact tracing efforts continue to find how a third probable case was contracted. But the state said the risk to most people is low.
According to Director of the Department of Health, Dr. Libby Char, there are several ways to contract the virus.
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“The spread is mostly going to be by close contact. So that’s really where the highest risk occurs,” Char explained. “There can be some droplets spread and so that’s why we’re saying masks are a good thing.”
With the threat of monkeypox spreading within the community, many residents, are once again reaching for their masks.
Honolulu resident Betsy Hata said it is concerning.
“I wear my mask all the time and also just going out to places, I’m really concerned because sometimes they don’t do the six foot seating,” Hata said.
Honolulu resident Johnson Yee said he’s also worried about the virus.
“I think wearing the mask is good for my protection for their protection,” Yee said. “I think it’s a good idea.”
DOH confirmed Hawaii’s first case of monkeypox Thursday and is waiting for results on two probable cases.
Officials said they are contact tracing.
Two of the cases are linked but they are unsure if there is a connection with the third probable case.
Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan said the risk to most Hawaii residents remains low but others may be at higher risk.
“Nationwide, most cases have been among gay or bisexual men,” Tan explained. “The LGBT plus community should be aware of the possibility of increased risk and take precautions. These communities should avoid anonymous sexual contact, or events where people may have close bodily contact with others.”
Walter Enriquez, owner of the Gay Island Guide, wants DOH to confirm if the local cases are directly linked to the LGBT community.
“I would like them to be a little more transparent so that we can get the word out to and educate our people a lot more,” he explained.
Since June is pride month and there are a bunch of events planned Enriquez said many are taking precautions.
“Hopefully this monkeypox (outbreak) stays low but just in case, as a precautionary thing, some of the venues are going to implement contact tracing so that hopefully we get the word out a lot quicker,” Enriquez said.
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Advocates for the LGBT community want people to remember that monkeypox is not a gay disease, anyone can catch it if they come in contact with an infected person.