WHO issues new monkeypox warning


‘No room for complacency’ as infections triple in just two weeks

Cases of monkeypox have tripled in Europe in the past two weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed on Friday, warning that “urgent and coordinated action” is required.

According to the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, cases of monkeypox have been reported in six new countries and areas since mid-June, bringing the total to 31. During the same period, the number of new cases in the region tripled to 4,500.

The International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee will soon revise its assessment of the significance of the outbreak, Kluge revealed. The committee’s current position is that the outbreak “does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern”.

“There is simply no room for complacency – especially here in the European region with its rapidly evolving epidemic which every hour, day and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas,” said the regional manager.

Kluge outlined a set of measures that should be taken by governments to address the problem. First, he says, “Countries must rapidly scale up monkeypox surveillance, including sequencing, and achieve the capacity to diagnose and respond to the disease.“The WHO official also stressed the need for “good investments in public health”, as well as the transparency of policies and the communication of “good messages” for the public.

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Meanwhile, Kluge said that “stigmatizationof homosexuals threatens the fight against the disease, as 99% of cases have occurred in male patients – the majority of whom are known to have had sex with other men.

“Through our lessons in the fight against HIV, we know how stigma further fuels outbreaks and epidemics, but allowing our fear of creating stigma to prevent us from taking action can be just as damaging,” he said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of July 1, 5,783 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in 52 countries, with the highest number reported in the UK (1,235 cases).

WHO does not currently recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox. However, on June 28, the US government announced that nearly two million monkeypox vaccines would be distributed in the coming months among “high risk people”.

On June 21, the UK Health Security Agency announced that “Some gay and bisexual men at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox should be offered vaccines to help control the recent outbreak of the virus.”

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash often starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body, although the WHO has noted that patients affected by the current outbreak develop lesions on the genitals and anus, and do not develop not some of the traditional flu-like symptoms of infection.

The virus can spread through close contact with lesions, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets, as well as through contaminated materials.


RT

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