West indian countries

Who works closely with countries affected by monkeypox; India remains vigilant

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NEW DELHI : The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with partners to determine the extent and cause of an outbreak of Monkeypox, the global body said.

Although no cases have been reported in India, the Indian government is monitoring global evidence and has alerted its testing labs to be vigilant and ready to handle cases should they arise.

There are approximately 80 confirmed cases so far and 50 ongoing investigations. More cases are likely to be reported as surveillance expands.

WHO is working with affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support those who may be affected, and to provide advice on how to manage the disease.

“We continue to convene meetings of experts and technical advisory groups (such as today’s meeting of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential [STAG-IH]) to share information about the disease and response strategies,” the WHO said in a press release.

As the situation evolves, the WHO will continue to provide updates as we learn more, the WHO added.

“The virus is endemic in certain animal populations in a number of countries, causing occasional outbreaks among the local population and travellers. The recent outbreaks reported in 11 countries so far are atypical, as they occur in non-endemic countries,” the WHO said.

Monkeypox spreads differently from Covid-19. WHO encourages people to stay informed from trusted sources, such as national health authorities, about the extent of the outbreak in their community (if any), symptoms and prevention.

As Monkeypox is spread through close contact, the response must focus on those affected and their close contacts.

“People who interact closely with an infectious person are at greater risk of infection: this includes health workers, household members and sexual partners,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is vigilant and closely monitoring global data from other countries. In this regard, the Union Health Ministry has ordered the Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Center for Disease Control and airport authorities to closely monitor the situation.

Dr Samiran Panda, Additional Director General of ICMR, said: “So far, no cases of Monekypox have been identified in India. But we have to be careful and there should be no panic and if there are cases we have Biosafety Laboratory (BSL)-4 and laboratory SOPs in place.”

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