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WHO says monkeypox could start spreading among high-risk groups; Caribbean region on alert

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Monkeypox has been detected in 50 countries according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In their situation report dated June 27, between January 1 and June 22, 2022, 3413 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death have been reported to WHO.

Since the previous Disease Outbreak News on June 17, 1,310 new cases have been reported, and eight new countries have reported cases.

With the rate of transmission of this virus, the WHO says ‘sustained transmission’ of monkeypox worldwide could see the virus begin to move into high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised people and children.

“The virus has now been identified in more than 50 new countries, and that trend is likely to continue. I’m concerned about sustained transmission because it would suggest that the virus is establishing itself, and it could move into high-risk groups, including children, the immunocompromised and pregnant women. We’re starting to see this with several children already infected.” said the WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.

The Director-General continued, “While [the] emergency committee did not advise that the current outbreak presents a public health emergency of international concern, they acknowledge the emergency nature of the event and that controlling the further spread requires intense response efforts.”

In the region of the Americas, The Pan-America Health Organisation has reported 427 confirmed cases from 7 countries: Argentina (4 cases), Brazil (11 cases), Canada (224 cases), Chile (3 cases), Mexico (11 cases), the United States of America (173 cases), and Venezuela (1 case).

Since the regional situation report of June 17, 159 confirmed cases have been reported, and one more country (Chile) reported confirmed cases.

The Caribbean has been on alert for the virus since the spread accelerated. However, there have been no reported cases of the virus in the region as yet.

St Lucia’s Epidemiology Department said on June 27 that it received an alert from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a crew member on a flight tested positive for the Monkeypox virus, and the country has taken steps to identify and contain anyone who came into contact with that crew member.

According to regional reports, the identified contacts of the case are expected to be contacted by the Ministry of Health and placed in quarantine and monitored for 21 days.

PAHO has already started training lab technicians in the region from Jamaica, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Guyana. Recently the regional health institution conducted in-person training in Jamaica to detect the virus using molecular real-time polymerase chain reaction testing.

The risk to the general public is low according to PAHO, sharing that the transmission of the virus is still in the early phases and has not reached epidemic status.

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