GENEVA: Thirty non-endemic countries have reported more than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Investigations are ongoing, but the sudden appearance of monkeypox in many countries at the same time suggests there may have been undetected transmission for some time,” Tedros told journalists at WHO’s Geneva headquarters on Wednesday.
With most reported cases have been among sexual encounters between men, those communities are working to inform their members of risks and preventative action that can be taken.
“But all of us must work hard to fight stigma, which is not just wrong, it could also prevent infected individuals from seeking care, making it harder to stop transmission,” warned the WHO chief, urging affected countries to widen their surveillance to the broader community.
Anyone risks infection if they have close physical contact with someone who has Monkeypox. Tedros noted that as the situation is evolving, WHO expects more cases to be found.
“It’s important to remember that generally, Monkeypox symptoms resolve on their own, but can be severe in some cases,” he added.
WHO continues to receive updates on the status of ongoing Monkeypox outbreaks in African countries where the disease is endemic.
The top WHO official outlined his priorities to provide accurate information to those most at-risk; prevent further spread among those at high risk; protect frontline health workers; and advance “our understanding” of the disease, said UN in its press release.
In view of the increasing reports of Monkeypox (MPX) cases in non-endemic countries, India’s Health Ministry on Tuesday acted proactively and issued ‘Guidelines on Management of Monkeypox Disease’ to ensure advance preparedness across the country.
“There are no reported cases of monkeypox disease in India, as of date,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
As per the guidelines, a confirmed case is laboratory confirmed for monkeypox virus by detection of unique sequences of viral DNA either by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or sequencing.
“All the clinical specimens should be transported to the Apex Laboratory of ICMR-NIV (Pune) routed through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network of the respective district/state,” it said in the guidelines.
The Guidelines on Management of Monkeypox Disease include the epidemiology of the disease (including host, incubation period, period of communicability, and mode of transmission; contact and case definitions; clinical features and its complication, diagnosis, case management, risk communication, guidance on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) including use of personal protective equipment.
“The guidelines stress surveillance and rapid identification of new cases as the key public health measures for outbreak containment, mandating the need to reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission. It explains the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures, IPC at home, patient isolation and ambulance transfer strategies, additional precautions that need to be taken care of, and duration of isolation procedures,” the statement reads.
As per the guidelines, contacts should be monitored at least daily for the onset of signs/symptoms for a period of 21 days from the last contact with a patient or their contaminated materials during the infectious period.
Raising awareness of risk factors, the guidelines further explain in detail about raising awareness and educating people about the measures for Monkeypox virus-like avoiding contact with any material of the sick person, isolation of the infected patient from others, practicing good hand hygiene, and using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.
The Ministry further said that the Monkeypox has been reported as endemic in several other central and western African countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. However, cases have been also reported in certain non-endemic countries e.g. USA, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Austria, Israel, Switzerland, etc.