The World Health Organization called on Friday for ‘urgent’ action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe, noting that cases had tripled there over the past two weeks.
“Today, I am intensifying my call for governments and civil society to scale up efforts … to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself across a growing geographical area,” WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Henri Kluge said.
“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease.”
Since early May, a surge in monkeypox cases has been detected outside West and Central African countries where the viral disease is endemic.
An estimate of ninety percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases registered worldwide — or 4,500 infections — are in Europe, Kluge said.
Thirty-one countries and areas have now reported infections.
Kluge said Europe remains at the centre of the expanding outbreak and the risk remains high.
The WHO does not think the outbreak currently constitutes a public health emergency of international concern but will review its position shortly, he said.
Most monkeypox infections so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age, chiefly in urban areas, according to the WHO.
It is investigating cases of possible sexual transmission but maintains the disease is primarily spread through close contact.