Health & Fitness

Over 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported in 29 countries

By Oluwaseun Sonde

Director General, World Health Organisation WHO, Dr Tedro Gheyehesus has said that over 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have now been reported from 29 countries that are not endemic for the disease while so far, no deaths have been reported in these countries.

The DG who made this known during Press Briefing on Wednesday, revealed that cases have been reported mainly men, but not only, among men who have sex with men, as some countries are beginning to report cases of apparent community transmission, including some cases in women.

According to him, “the sudden and unexpected monkeypox appearance in several non-endemic countries suggests that there might have been undetected transmission for some time. How long, we don’t know.

“The risk of monkeypox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real. While WHO is particularly concerned about the risks of this virus for vulnerable groups including children and pregnant women”

Ghebreyesus stated that this scenario can be prevented. “WHO urges the affected countries to make every effort to identify all cases and contacts to control this outbreak and prevent onward monkeypox spread.

“To support countries, WHO has issued guidance on monkeypox surveillance and contact tracing; lab testing and diagnosis. In the coming days, we will issue guidance on clinical care, infection prevention & control, vaccination; further guidance on community protection.”

He recalled that last week, WHO hosted a consultation with more than 500 researchers to review what to know and don’t know, and to identify research priorities.

“We’re also working with UNAIDS, civil society organizations and communities of men who have sex with men to listen to their questions and provide information on what monkeypox is and how to avoid it”.

WHO DG noted that there are effective ways for people to protect themselves, others people with monkeypox symptoms should isolate at home and consult a health worker. “Those who share a household with an infected person should avoid close contact.

“There are antivirals and vaccines approved for monkeypox, but these are in limited supply. WHO is developing a coordination mechanism for the distribution of supplies based on public health needs and fairness”, he said.

Ghebreyesus emphasized that WHO does not recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox. “In the few places where vaccines are available, they are being used to protect those who may be exposed, such as healthworkers and laboratory personnel.

“Post-exposure vaccination, ideally within four days of exposure, may be considered by some countries for higher-risk close contacts, such as sexual partners, family members in the same household and health workers”, The DG added.

He further said It’s a thing of concern that monkeypox is spreading in countries where it has not been seen before. “At the same time, we must remember that so far this year there have been more than one thousand four hundred suspected cases of monkeypox in Africa, and 66 deaths.

“This virus has been circulating and killing in Africa for decades. It’s an unfortunate reflection of the world we live in that the international community is only now paying attention to monkeypox because it has appeared in high-income countries”, the DG said.

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