• Europe remains 'epicentre' of monkeypox outbreak: WHO

    Health

    Until the past few months, monkeypox had generally been confined to Western and Central Africa.

    Digital Desk: With almost 1,500 cases reported in the region, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated on Wednesday that Europe remained the epicentre of the worldwide monkeypox outbreak, which posed a "serious concern."

    On Tuesday, the United Nations health agency stated that an emergency conference would be held next week to evaluate whether the outbreak could be classified as a public health emergency of worldwide concern.

    "Europe remains the epicentre of this increasing outbreak, with 25 countries reporting over 1,500 cases, accounting for 85 percent of the global total," said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, at a press briefing on Wednesday.

    The European area of the WHO is made up of 53 countries, including some from Central Asia.

    "The scope of this outbreak poses a serious threat." The longer the virus is spread, the further it will spread and the disease's foothold in non-endemic countries will become stronger, "Kluge remarked.

    Monkeypox was thought to be restricted to Western and Central Africa until recently.

    The majority of cases reported in Europe "have been among guys who have sex with men," according to Kluge, who also cautioned against stigmatisation.

    "The monkeypox virus is not in itself tied to any single tribe," he said.

    With "tourists, different Pride events, music festivals, and other mass gatherings scheduled across the region," the regional director also cautioned that the risk was increasing as summer approached.

    Kluge remarked that "these gatherings are significant opportunities to engage with young, sexually active, and highly mobile people," but that "monkeypox is not an excuse to cancel events, but an opportunity to harness them to enhance our involvement."

    Next to Kluge, Steve Taylor, director of the European Pride Organisers Association, said that 750 Pride events were scheduled across Europe and that the WHO's advice to keep these events going was a good one.

    "Unfortunately, but totally unsurprisingly," Taylor told reporters, "some of the individuals who hate Pride and who reject equality and human rights have already started seeking to exploit monkeypox as a rationale for calls for Pride to be banned."

    Though the WHO does not encourage mass immunisation against monkeypox, the EU stated Tuesday that it has purchased around 110,000 vaccine doses to assist combat the outbreak.

     

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