Spread of monkeypox in Africa shows ‘worrying sign’, says WHO

Par :| Key words : Africa,Health,monkey pox
French.china.org.cn| Updated on 01-07-2022

With new cases reported in three African countries that have never previously reported a case of monkeypox transmission, the geographical spread of the virus on the continent presents a “worrying sign”, warned Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa.

As of June 28, Africa has reported 1,821 cases of monkeypox in 13 countries, including 109 lab-confirmed cases in nine countries, Moeti said at a press conference held virtually on Thursday in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo.

Apart from African countries with a history of human transmission of monkeypox in Africa, the disease has been reported in three countries that had not previously recorded any human cases. Among them are Ghana, Morocco and South Africa.

South Africa has confirmed the presence of the disease in two patients with no travel history, suggesting “a strong possibility of community transmission”, according to the WHO regional office for Africa.

“The geographic spread of monkeypox in parts of Africa where no cases have yet been detected is a worrying sign,” Ms Moeti said, adding, “It is critical that we support countries’ efforts to strengthen surveillance and laboratory diagnosis, which are the cornerstones of the fight against the disease.”

According to the WHO, the number of confirmed cases in Africa represents 2% of the more than 4,500 confirmed cases worldwide. However, there are a large number of suspected cases in the region, with 81% of these cases occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), highlighting the need for increased diagnostic capacity.

“What happened in the early days of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, when Africa sat on the sidelines while other countries shared the limited number of available vaccines, must not happen again. There are signs that this is already happening,” she noted, adding, “The global attention currently being given to monkeypox should serve as a catalyst to defeat this disease once and for all in Africa. this, we know that vaccines are an essential tool.”

On June 25, the WHO declared that the ongoing spread of monkeypox in more than 50 countries does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern, the highest level of alert the WHO can issue. .

However, “the risk of further and lasting transmission to the general population” should not be overlooked, some members of the WHO Emergency Committee warned about this epidemic in a report.

“However, we are aware that tracking the spread of the virus remains critical, and WHO is deploying expert assistance to strengthen surveillance and improve the overall response. We are therefore monitoring this situation very closely globally in order to determine if and when would be a good time to declare a public health emergency of international concern,” Moeti said.

Monkeypox, first detected in laboratory monkeys in 1958, is believed to be transmitted from wild animals such as rodents to humans, or from human to human.

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