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The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday raised fresh alarm calling for ‘urgent’ action to forestall the spread of monkeypox in Europe, pointing out that cases had tripled there over the past two weeks.
‘Today, I am intensifying my call for governments and civil society to scale up efforts … to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself across a growing geographical area,’ WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Henri Kluge asserted.
‘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 added.
Africa Daily News, New York recalls that since early May, a surge in monkeypox cases has been detected outside West and Central African countries where the viral disease is endemic.
‘Ninety percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases registered worldwide — or 4,500 infections — are in Europe’, Kluge said.
Thirty-one countries and areas have now reported infections.
Kluge said Europe remains at the centre of the expanding outbreak and the risk remains high.
The WHO does not believe the outbreak currently constitutes a public health emergency of international concern but will review its position shortly, he said.
Most monkeypox infections so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age, chiefly in urban areas, according to the WHO.
It is investigating cases of possible sexual transmission but maintains the disease is primarily spread through close contact.
Meanwhile, the European Union on Tuesday revealed that it has purchased almost 110,000 vaccine doses to help tackle the monkeypox outbreak and would share them out among the bloc’s members.
The jabs, made by Danish firm Bavarian Nordic, are currently authorised for use in the EU against smallpox, but officials say they will also work against the monkeypox virus.
‘With the agreement signed today, we ensure that member states will have access to much-needed vaccines to protect people exposed to monkeypox,’ EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides disclosed.
The World Health Organization says that, since the start of May, 1,285 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in 28 countries outside African nations where it is endemic.