GENEVA: Global reported monkeypox cases fell 21% last week, suggesting a reversal of a month-long trend of rising infections and a possible start to decline in European outbreaks , the World Health Organization said Thursday.
The United Nations health agency said it reported 5,907 new cases each week, with two countries, Iran and Indonesia, reporting their first cases. Since late April, more than 45,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in 98 countries to date.
According to WHO, 60% of the cases in the past month were in the Americas, and about 38% in Europe. He said infections in the Americas were showing a “continued spike”.
At a press conference on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there were signs that the monkeypox outbreak in Europe was slowing.
“Insufficient awareness and public health measures, combined with lack of access to vaccines, are fueling the flames of outbreaks, especially in Latin America,” Tedros said.
In late July, Tedros declared the unprecedented spread of monkeypox to dozens of countries a global emergency, despite the lack of consensus of a panel of experts.
The African Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that the continent had 219 new cases in the past week, a 54% increase. Most were in Nigeria and Congo.
British health officials said last week that there were “early signs” of a slowdown in the country’s monkeypox outbreak. Britain’s Health Security Agency downgraded the country’s monkeypox outbreak last month.
Monkeypox is usually spread by requiring skin-to-skin or skin-to-mouth contact with an infected patient’s lesions. It can also be transmitted through contact with infected clothing or bed sheets.
With limited vaccine supplies globally, authorities in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom have all begun rationing doses to expand supplies by up to fivefold.
WHO advises countries with vaccine stocks to prioritize vaccination of people at high risk of the disease, such as health workers, laboratory staff and outbreak responders.
Africa has reported the most suspected deaths from monkeypox, but the continent has no vaccine supply, except for a very small strain being tested in a research study in the Congo.
“As we know, the situation regarding access to the monkeypox vaccine is highly topical, but the dose of the vaccine is not sufficient,” Ifedayo Adetifah, Executive Director of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, said this week. “More doses may become available, but challenges at manufacturing plants and an unexpected rise in monkeypox cases mean the vaccine may not actually be available until 2023. ”