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Surge in global monkeypox cases prompts fresh concern by World Health Organisation

Surge in global monkeypox cases prompts fresh concern by World Health Organisation

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global surge of thousands of new cases of monkeypox has sparked fresh concern among health authorities.

The total of cases now stands at more than 6,000 worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

It reported a 77 percent weekly increase in the number of lab-confirmed monkeypox cases.

Most of those cases were reported in Europe and Africa, with two more deaths reported in parts of Africa.

Although the virus can affect anyone, the UN agency said the outbreak is still continuing to mainly concentrated among men who have sex with men.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that he remained “concerned by the scale and spread of the virus”, saying that over 80% of the cases were in Europe.

He said he would convene the next meeting of a WHO expert panel that is monitoring the outbreak for no later than the week of July 18.

The organisation said it had counted 6,027 confirmed cases of monkeypox from 59 countries as of Monday, an increase of 2,614 cases since its last count for the week ending June 27.

It said three people had now died in connection with the outbreak, all of them in Africa.

Nine additional countries had reported cases, while 10 countries had not reported any new cases for more than three weeks, which is the maximum incubation period.

Last month, the UK said it would begin rolling out monkeypox vaccines more widely to people at higher risk of getting the illness.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Secutity Agency, said: “Our extensive contact tracing work has helped to limit the spread of the monkeypox virus, but we are continuing to see a notable proportion of cases in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

“By expanding the vaccine offer to those at higher risk, we hope to break chains of transmission and help contain the outbreak”.

Most monkeypox patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have become infected through bites from rodents or small animals.

The virus does not usually spread easily among people.

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