- WHO says monkeypox cases triple in Europe in two weeks, calls for urgent action needed to contain spread.
- Monkeypox emergency committee to reconvene due to “evolving situation”.
- Even rich countries face logistical challenges in testing monkeypox, which also uses a similar PCR test used to confirm COVID-19.
- WHO has warned that “sustained transmission” of monkeypox could move into high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised people and children.
Lab-confirmed monkeypox cases jumped to 5,323 late on Thursday, based on cumulative confirmed cases in 52 locations (countries, territories, and areas) where the virus is not endemic, according to the latest US Centres for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
The numbers, sourced from publicly available official sources, such as the WHO, European CDC and public health agencies, show a huge jump from earlier counts — including the doubling of “lab-confirmed” cases in the US, to nearly 400 in just 4 days.
For Europe, new infections have increased three-fold in two weeks, according to the WHO office in Europe.
The spike has led Henri Kluge, the head of WHO Europe, to urge governments to ramp efforts to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself on the continent, where 4,500 cases across 31 European nations had already been confirmed Friday.
“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” Kluge said.
Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease.
He called the spread of monkeypox in Europe an “emergency event.” Europe is the center of a global outbreak of the virus with 90% of confirmed monkeypox cases reported there, according to the WHO. New infections have tripled since June 15, 2022.
Another count, updated by global.health, shows confirmed total cases at 5,399 globally as of Friday, July 1, 2022.
A number of public health experts have expressed concern time is running out to mount an effective response — including though vaccinations — to stop transmission before the disease becomes “endemic” in non-endemic countries.
There had been cases reported with no known link to “chains of transmission” — which indicate the disease is spreading within the community, with carriers possibly spreading the virus without knowledge that they are infected.
Emergency committee meeting
Meanwhile the WHO is set to convene an emergency meeting of an experts’ committee in the face of “evolving” health challenge.
On June 25 decided not to declare monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. PHEIC, the WHO’s highest level of alert, means that an event constitutes a public health risk to other countries through international spread and requires a coordinated international response.
The WHO chief had admitted then that there may been an undercounting of cases, compounded by the fact that testing and lab confirmation, even in richer countries, are still difficult to obtain.
⚪ According to the US CDC, there is currently no commercially available assay to detect monkeypox virus. The agency has urged laboratories conducting the tests to should perform a site-specific and activity-specific risk assessment to identify and mitigate transmission risks.
The monkeypox cases by country | territory:
> A majority of the cases are being reported in European countries.
> During the June 25 World Health Organisation meeting, the emergency committee agreed monkeypox is an “evolving health threat”, adding that the outbreak requires “coordinated action” to stop the spread of the virus.”
> Actions includes greater surveillance, improved diagnostics, community engagement and risk communication, and the appropriate use of therapeutics, vaccines, and public health measures such as contact tracing and isolation.
> No deaths have been reported in non-endemic countries.