Monkeypox cases top 35,000 in 92 countries — WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says monkeypox infections continue to rise globally, with more than 35,000 cases across 92 countries and territories, and 12 deaths.

WHO Director General, Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus, disclosed this while speaking at a news conference from WHO headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday.

“Almost 7,500 cases were reported last week, a 20 per cent increase over the previous week, which was also 20 per cent more than the week before,” he said.

According to him, the majority of cases are being reported from Europe and the Americas, and mostly among men who have sex with men.

Ghebreyesus said that the primary focus for all countries must be to ensure they are ready for monkeypox, and to stop transmission.

He said countries should focus on stopping monkeypox transmission by using effective public health tools, including enhanced disease surveillance, careful contact tracing, tailored risk communication and community engagement, and risk reduction measures.

Currently, global supplies of monkeypox vaccines are limited, as is data about their effectiveness, noting that WHO is in contact with manufacturers, and with countries and organisations willing to share vaccine doses.

“We remain concerned that the inequitable access to vaccines we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic will be repeated, and that the poorest will continue to be left behind,” he said.

Speaking on COVID-19, the WHO chief said COVID-19 deaths had also increased over the last four weeks, rising by 35 per cent, with 15,000 lives lost in the past week alone.

“Fifteen thousand deaths a week is completely unacceptable, when we have all the tools to prevent infections and save lives.

“Although everyone might be tired of COVID-19 but virus is not tired of us,” he said.

Omicron remains the dominant variant, with the BA.5 sub-variant accounting for more than 90 per cent of genome sequences shared in the last month.

Ghebreyesus reported that it is becoming harder to understand how the virus might be changing.

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