Monkeypox spread slows down

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — More than 50,000 monkeypox cases have been recorded in the global outbreak, World Health Organization figures showed Wednesday, though transmission is slowing in the virus hotspots of Europe and the United States.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the declines in new infections proved the outbreak could be halted.

“In the Americas, which accounts for more than half of reported cases, several countries continue to see increasing numbers of infections, although it is encouraging to see a sustained downward trend in Canada,” he told a press conference.

“Some European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, are also seeing a clear slowing of the outbreak, demonstrating the effectiveness of public health interventions and community engagement to track infections and prevent transmission.

“These signs confirm what we have said consistently since the beginning: that with the right measures, this is an outbreak that can be stopped.”

Health emergency

The WHO’s dashboard listed 50,496 cases and 16 deaths as reported this year to the United Nations agency, which declared the outbreak a global public health emergency in July.

The countries which have reported more than a thousand cases to the WHO in total are the US (17,994), Spain (6,543), Brazil (4,693), France (3,547), Germany (3,467), Britain (3,413), Peru (1,463), Canada (1,228) and the Netherlands (1,160).

Nigeria has reported four deaths to the WHO, Ghana three, Spain and the Central African Republic two each, while Brazil, Belgium, Ecuador, India and Cuba have each reported one fatality.
The disease causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions.

Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead on monkeypox, said physical contact of any kind with someone who has the virus would put them at risk of catching it too.

“The vast majority today are still among men who have sex with men, whether they be gay, bisexual or otherwise have contact with other men who have monkeypox,” she told Wednesday’s press conference.

A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May among men who have sex with men, outside the African countries where it has long been endemic.

The WHO triggered its highest level of alarm on 24 July, classifying it as a public health emergency of international concern, alongside Covid-19.

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