Cases of monkeypox have nearly tripled in the United Kingdom, as the World Health Organization warns that the world faces a series of “formidable” challenges as the deadly virus spreads.
Monkeypox has spread to 15 countries outside of Africa, and experts from the UN health agency met to discuss how the world should respond to slow the virus’s spread.
More than 100 cases have been confirmed in Europe, North America, Israel, and Australia, with another 36 cases confirmed in the UK today, bringing the total to 56.
Belgium has made a three-week quarantine mandatory for anyone infected with the deadly virus.
The EU is set to advise all members to devise a strategy to combat the spread of the tropical disease, which could include injecting infected people’s close contacts with a smallpox vaccine.
Monkeypox does not usually spread between people, so experts have been taken aback by its sudden appearance outside of Africa.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Sunday that the Covid pandemic was no longer the world’s only health crisis.
“As we speak, our colleagues around the world are responding to ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, monkeypox and unknown hepatitis outbreaks, and complex humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, and Yemen,” he told the World Health Assembly.
“We are confronted with a formidable convergence of disease, drought, famine, and war, fueled by climate change, inequity, and geopolitical rivalry.”
The assembly, which is set to last until Saturday, is the first time the WHO has brought together its 194 member states for a largely in-person gathering since Covid-19 emerged in late 2019.
During a trip to Japan on Monday, Joe Biden commented on the monkeypox outbreak, saying that the US has enough vaccines to deal with the virus and that “extra efforts” are not required to prevent its spread.
President Biden was asked if people infected with monkeypox could face weeks-long quarantines.
“No, I don’t believe so.” “Look, we’ve had this monkeypox in larger numbers before,” he said at a press conference in Tokyo following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Number two, we have vaccines to deal with it.” Third, there doesn’t appear to be any need for any additional efforts beyond what’s already going on.”