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WHO calls for quick action against monkeypox in non-endemic countries

Test tubes labeled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on countries around the globe to take quick action to contain the spread of monkeypox in non-endemic countries.

WHO director for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, Sylvie Briand, said at a technical briefing to member states on Friday that “if we put the right measures in place now we can contain it easily.”

Monkeypox, typically a mild viral infection, is endemic in the African countries but its spread to non-endemic zones such as Europe and the US has raised concerns.

According to WHO figures, around 200 confirmed monkeypox cases and over 100 suspected cases have been reported around the world.

Briand urged the general public not to be worried since the transmission rate of the disease is much slower than other viruses such as the coronavirus.

WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, estimated that more cases will likely be reported as surveillance expands, but added that the recent spread is containable.

“We expect more cases to be detected. We are asking countries to increase surveillance,” Van Kerkhove said, adding that “this is a containable situation. It will be difficult, but it’s a containable situation in the non-endemic countries.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission is set to purchase an antiviral drug and a vaccine to be deployed against monkeypox, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Financial Times cited the sources as saying that the contracts are expected to be finalized as early as next week.

After two years of battling COVID-19, the unusual monkeypox outbreak is triggering another wave of anxiety around the world.

The disease is spread through close physical contact with people who are infected. This can happen by touching someone with wounds or inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person.

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