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More than 550 confirmed monkeypox cases worldwide, says WHO chief

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A new pandemic remains unlikely ( Sadik Kedir Abdu - Anadolu Agency )
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Jun 02, 2022 - 09:53 AM

GENEVA (AA) – The head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that more than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported from 30 countries where the virus is not endemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said at a webinar from Geneva that the sudden appearance of monkeypox in many countries at the same time suggested there may have been undetected transmission for some time.

“So far, most cases have been reported among men who have sex with men presenting with symptoms at sexual health clinics,” said Tedros.

“These communities are working hard to inform their members about the risks of monkeypox and prevent transmission.”

Dr. Rosamund Lewis, head of the Smallpox Secretariat of the WHO Emergencies Program, said that currently, the international organization does not recommend mass vaccination.

There are several countries in which this disease is endemic: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon are reporting cases, and there are other countries that have reported cases in the past.

Mass vaccination not needed

“There is no need for mass vaccination. At the moment, we have what’s described as an outbreak in a specific community, which does engage in travel and have physical contact.”

Tedros said people must work hard “to fight stigma,” which he said is wrong and can prevent infected individuals from seeking care, making it harder to stop transmission.

WHO urges affected countries to widen their surveillance and look for cases in the broader community, added the health organization chief.

“Anyone can be infected with monkeypox if they have close physical contact with someone else who is infected,” he said.

“It’s important to remember that generally, monkeypox symptoms resolve on their own but can be severe in some cases.”

Turning to COVID-19, Tedros said reported cases and deaths from the virus continue to decline globally, though this trend should be interpreted with caution as many countries have reduced the number of tests they conduct.

“And, we do see concerning trends in several regions. Reported cases and deaths are increasing in the Americas, while deaths are also increasing in the Western Pacific region and Africa,” said Tedros.

“Once again, the pandemic is not over. We continue to call on all countries to maintain testing and sequencing services, to give us a clearer picture of where the virus is spreading and how it’s changing.”

The WHO chief called on all countries to vaccinate all health workers, older people, and other at-risk groups against COVID-19.

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