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Belgium becomes first country to introduce mandatory monkeypox quarantine as global cases rise

Belgium becomes first country to introduce mandatory monkeypox quarantine as global cases rise
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In this 1971 photo from the Centers for Disease Control, monkeypox-like lesions are shown on a girl’s arm and leg in Bondua, Liberia.

CDC | Getty Images

Belgium has become the first country to introduce a mandatory 21-day quarantine for patients with monkeypox as cases of the disease – usually endemic in Africa – distributed all over the world.

Health authorities in Belgium introduced the measures on Friday after reporting its third case of the virus. On Monday, the country recorded four local cases; confirmed global infections currently number around 100.

Belgium’s mandatory measures only apply to patients with confirmed infection. Close contacts are not required to self-isolate but are encouraged to remain vigilant, especially if they are in contact with vulnerable people.

“Infected persons will be required to go into contact isolation until wounds have healed (they will receive concrete instructions on this from the attending physician),” read a translated version of the government announcement.

The United Kingdom has says those at high risk contracting the disease must self-isolate for 21 days. This includes household contacts or healthcare professionals who may have had contact with an infected patient.

What is monkey pox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus — part of the smallpox family — with symptoms including rashes, fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling and back pain.

Although generally less serious than smallpoxhealth experts are increasingly concerned about the genesis of a recent outbreak, which began in early May, in countries outside of central and west Africa.

Health authorities, including the United States Centers for Disease and Infection Control and the UK Health Security Agencysaid they noted a particular concentration of cases among men who have sex with men, and urged gay and bisexual men in particular to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions.

From Saturday, the World Health Organization reported that there were 92 cases in 12 countries and 28 other suspected cases under investigation. The US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands all have confirmed cases .

In this graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand on May 27, 2003.

CDC | Getty Images

The public health body said the recently reported cases were unrelated to travel from endemic African countries, which is unusual for the disease. It is usually spread by human-to-human or human-to-animal contact.

“Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, however, cases reported so far have no established travel links to endemic areas,” the WHO said in a statement. statement posted on its website Saturday.

“Based on currently available information, cases have been primarily, but not exclusively, identified among men who have sex with men (MSM) seeking care at primary care and sexual health clinics,” a- he added.

More monkeypox cases likely

The recent increase in community cases, particularly in urban areas, is now raising fears of a wider outbreak.

“To make it appear now – over 100 cases in 12 different countries with no obvious link – means we need to understand exactly what’s going on,” Seth Berkley, CEO of global vaccine alliance Gavi, told CNBC on Monday.

“The truth is we don’t know what it is and therefore how bad it’s going to be. But it’s likely we’re going to see more cases,” he said.

Although most cases of monkeypox are mild and usually disappears in 2 to 4 weeksit currently exists no proven vaccine. The smallpox vaccine has been shown to be 85% effective in preventing infection, and some countries have already started store doses.

Berkley warned that the new outbreak, coming even as the existing coronavirus pandemic is “not yet over”, was a warning to authorities to invest more resources in infectious diseases. He was speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where political and economic leaders have gathered this week key global issues, including pandemic preparedness.

“It’s evolutionarily certain that we’re going to see more outbreaks,” he said. “That’s why pandemic preparedness is so important. Look at what it can do economically in a pandemic”

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