The WHO director for Europe calls on governments and civil society “to step up their efforts” to reverse the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for ‘urgent action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe, noting that cases there had tripled in the past two weeks.
To date, more than 5,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 51 countries around the world, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Infections in Europe account for around 90% of the global total of cases, and 31 countries in the European region have now identified cases, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri Kluge said on Friday.
“Today I intensify my call for governments and civil society to step up their efforts…to prevent monkeypox from becoming established in an expanding geographic area,” Kluge said. in a report.
“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the continued spread of this disease,” Kluge said.
Kluge also said in his statement that no deaths have been reported so far in the current outbreak.
“The vast majority of cases presented with a rash, and about three-quarters reported systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sore throat, or headache,” Kluge said. .
Until May, monkeypox had never been known to cause large outbreaks beyond Africa, where the disease is endemic in several countries and mainly causes limited outbreaks when it spreads to people in from infected wild animals.
“No room for complacency”
Kluge said Europe remains at the center of the expanding epidemic and the risk remains high.
“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- he declared.
The WHO does not currently believe the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, but will reconsider its position shortly, he added.
The UN agency believes the disease can be fatal, but smallpox vaccines are protective and some antiviral drugs are also in development.
To date, there have been approximately 1,800 suspected cases of monkeypox, including more than 70 deaths in Africa. Vaccines have never been used to stop monkeypox outbreaks in Africa. The WHO’s Africa office said this week that countries with vaccines “mainly reserve them for their own populations”.
So far, most monkeypox infections have been seen in young men who have sex with men, mostly in urban areas, according to the WHO. He is investigating cases of possible sexual transmission, but maintains that the disease is mainly spread through close contact.
Kluge said the problem of stigma in some countries could make some people reluctant to seek health care and said the WHO was working with partners, including organizers of gay Pride events.