GENEVA – The World Health Organization’s top official in Europe on Wednesday called on authorities and citizen groups to take urgent action to control the rising cases of monkeypox. rapidly, which he says poses a real risk to public health.
Europe has emerged as the epicenter of the monkeypox outbreak, with more than 1,500 cases identified in 25 European countries, accounting for 85% of global cases, said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director Europe, said at a press conference.
Dr Kluge added that WHO will convene its emergency committee in Geneva next week to determine whether the outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, a statement said. The official statement called for a coordinated national response.
Dr Kluge said: “The magnitude of this outbreak poses a real risk. “The longer the virus circulates, the more it expands its reach and the stronger its foothold in non-epidemic countries.”
WHO Director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters on Tuesday. Countries outside Africa and Europe that have confirmed cases of monkeypox include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel and the United States.
Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said infections were mainly caused by close physical contact and mainly affected men who had sex with men, but It can also be spread by respiratory droplets through prolonged face-to-face contact. at Wednesday’s press conference. Dr Ammon said cases of monkeypox have also been detected among close family members, but the risk of transmission in the general population is “fairly low”.
Dr Kluge said monkeypox was not tied to any social group, and warned that stigmatizing the virus as a homosexual disease would undermine efforts to develop a medical response. effective public health, as it did in tackling HIV and AIDS.
WHO has recorded 27 deaths from the disease in Africa this year but none in Europe. Infections are mostly mild and do not require hospitalization, but close contacts of people infected with the virus should also isolate for 21 days.
Dr Kluge echoed concerns that the spread of monkeypox could accelerate during the summer months in Europe when hundreds of Pride events, music festivals and other mass gatherings will be held. organization, but he said monkeypox was not a reason to cancel the event. The gatherings offer a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the disease, he said, calling on event organizers, local communities and dating apps to deliver clear messages. about how to prevent or deal with the disease.
Dr Kluge called for urgent action by European countries to scale up surveillance, diagnostic testing and genetic sequencing, and to trace contacts and sexual partners of infected people. WHO has released an emergency fund to strengthen laboratory capacity in identifying monkeypox virus in countries lacking the virus, he said.
Things to know about monkeypox virus
What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a virus endemic to parts of Central and West Africa. It is similar to smallpox, but less severe. It was discovered in 1958, after an outbreak of disease in monkeys kept for research, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But mass vaccination is discouraged, Dr Kluge said, echoing Dr Tedros’ comments on Tuesday, and he highlighted concerns that rich countries will repeat the mistakes of the Covid pandemic. -19 and quickly monopolized limited vaccine stocks.
Dr Tedros said that WHO is working with member states to develop an initiative to ensure more equitable access, but according to Dr Kluge, “We are seeing that in some quarters there is a need for more equitable access. rush to buy and stock these.”
The World Health Organization is also working with experts to come up with another name for monkeypox and the disease it causes as soon as possible, Dr Tedros said on Tuesday.
Christian Lindmeier, WHO spokesman, said the current name was “misleading and discriminatory”. Preliminary research indicates that human-to-human transmission has not been detected for a number of years, but the existing designation, he said, may encourage the mistaken belief that humans are not susceptible unless exposure through contact with Africa or the animals associated with it.