Belgium has become the first country in the world to mandate a quarantine over the global monkeypox outbreak. The new law states that anyone with monkeypox will be required to self-isolate for 21 days to stop the spread of the rare viral infection.
Belgium has so far had three confirmed cases. However, globally many dozens of cases have now been confirmed, including over 20 in the United Kingdom, most of whom have no known contact with one another.
Monkeypox is usually a mild disease that clears without treatment. However, in some cases, it can be deadly, with a mortality rate of around 1%, significantly higher than Covid-19.
The disease is usually spread through close physical contact with infected animals or other humans, and there is a suggestion that the disease could be passed on through sexual contact.
Dr. Claire Dewsnap, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told Sky News:
“Our response is really critical here. There is going to be more diagnoses over the next week. How many is hard to say. What worries me the most is there are infections across Europe, so this has already spread. It’s already circulating in the general population. Getting on top of all those people’s contacts is a massive job. It could be really significant numbers over the next two or three weeks.”
While, Dr. Susan Hopkins, a chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, told the BBC:
“We will be releasing updated numbers tomorrow – over-the-weekend figures. We are detecting more cases on a daily basis and I’d like to thank all of those people who are coming forward for testing to sexual health clinics, to the GPs and emergency department.”
“We are finding cases that have no identified contact with an individual from west Africa, which is what we’ve seen previously in this country. The community transmission is largely centred in urban areas and we are predominantly seeing it in individuals who self-identify as gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men. That’s because of the frequent close contacts they may have. We would recommend to anyone who’s having changes in sex partners regularly or having close contact with individuals that they don’t know, to come forward if they develop a rash.”
The vaccine for smallpox, a disease now eradicated, is said to be highly effective against monkeypox, though there is no indication as of yet that any country plans on deploying this.
[Based on reporting by: The Daily Mail]