WHO: monkeypox cases triple; warns over travel

Cases of the monkeypox virus have tripled around the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, the WHO added in its latest assessment that it remains confident that the spread does not currently merit a label of “endemic”.

The WHO warned that Europe remains “at the epicentre of the largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported outside of endemic areas in western and central Africa”.

The organisation said that the rapid transmission had been aided by the lifting of travel restrictions and warned that large in-person events over the summer could threaten to aid the spread of the virus. 

“Rapid, amplified transmission has occurred in the context of the recent lifting of pandemic restrictions on international travel and events,” the WHO explained.

“The potential for further transmission in Europe and elsewhere over the summer is high. Monkeypox has already spread against the backdrop of several mass gatherings in the Region.

“Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur.

“But they also provide powerful opportunities to engage with young, sexually active and globally mobile persons to raise awareness and strengthen individual and community protection.”

People who closely interact with someone who is infectious are at greater risk for infection, and this includes household members, sexual partners, and healthcare workers.

The WHO has said there were at least 780 cases of monkeypox discovered from 13 May to 2 June and currently assesses the global risk level as “moderate”.

Globally, the UK has the highest number of new cases with 207 outside an endemic area, followed by Spain with 156 and Portugal with 138.

Overall, most of the new cases are in Europe and North America as well as a handful in Mexico, Argentina, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Health experts have said the risk to the general public “remains low,” however, there is the chance that this risk could be heightened if the virus continues to spread in new countries.

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