WHO says risk of Monkeypox spread in Russia remains high

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the risk of the spread of Monkeypox in Europe, including Russia, is high.

“According to the WHO assessment, at the regional level, the risk in the WHO European Region is high over reports about the widespread outbreak which engulfed several previously untouched countries and some atypical cases,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Melita Vujnovic told Russian news agency Sputnik.

“The WHO recommends that all the countries should make every effort to register new cases and trace contacts to control this outbreak and prevent its further spread,” Vujnovic added.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is usually transmitted to people from wild animals and is endemic in some African countries. The disease can be transmitted through body fluids, respiratory droplets and other contaminated materials. The illness usually results in fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes.

An outbreak of monkeypox began in May in non-endemic countries, with over 5,100 cases confirmed in humans in 51 nations from May 13 to July 1, according to the WHO.

Monkeypox cases in Europe have tripled in the last two weeks, the WHO’s Europe chief warned on Friday as he urged countries to do more to ensure the rare disease does not become entrenched on the continent.

“The WHO European Region represents almost 90 per cent of all laboratory-confirmed and globally reported cases since mid-May, and since my last statement on 15 June, six new countries and areas – taking the total to 31 – have reported monkeypox cases, with new cases tripling over the same period to over 4,500 laboratory-confirmed cases across the Region,” said WHO Europe chief Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge.

He said most cases reported so far have been among people between 21 and 40 years of age, and 99 per cent have been male, with the majority of those for whom there was information being men who have sex with men.

The WHO official also stressed that there is simply no room for complacency — especially right there in the European Region with its fast-moving outbreak that with every hour, day and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas.

“Compounding the challenge is the stigmatization of men who have sex with men in several countries. Many may simply choose not to present to health authorities, fearful of possible consequences. We know from our lessons in dealing with HIV how stigma further fuels outbreaks and epidemics, but allowing our fear of creating stigma to prevent us from acting may be just as damaging,” he said.

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