Disease experts call on WHO, Govts for more action on Monkeypox

SWITZERLAND: Some prominent infectious disease experts are pushing for faster action from global health authorities to contain a growing Monkeypox outbreak that has spread to at least 20 countries.

They are arguing that Governments and the World Health Organisation (WHO) should not repeat the early missteps of the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed the detection of cases, helping the virus spread. While Monkeypox is not as transmissible or dangerous as COVID-19, these scientists say, there needs to be clearer guidance on how a person infected with monkeypox should isolate, more explicit advice on how to protect people who are at risk, and improved testing and contact tracing.

“If this becomes endemic (in more countries), we will have another nasty disease and many difficult decisions to take,”said Isabelle Eckerle, a professor at the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases in Switzerland.

The WHO is considering whether the outbreak should be assessed as a potential public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), an official said. A WHO determination that an outbreak constitutes a global health emergency – as it did with COVID-19 or Ebola – would help accelerate research and funding to contain a disease.

Discussing whether to set up an emergency committee, the body that recommends declaring a PHEIC, is just part of the agency’s routine response, WHO officials said.

More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of Monkeypox, a usually mild illness that spreads through close contact, causing flu-like symptoms and a distinctive rash, have been reported this month.

On Friday, the WHO reiterated that the Monkeypox virus is containable with measures including the quick detection and isolation of cases and contact tracing. People who are infected – and in some cases their close contacts – are advised to isolate for 21 days, but it is not clear to what extent people would adhere to such a long time away from work or other commitments. The lab capacity to test for Monkeypox is also not yet widely established, said Eckerle, meaning rapid diagnosis can be difficult. – THE STRAITS TIMES

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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