Nearly 200 cases of monkeypox in more than 20 countries: WHO
The World Health Organisation says nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the unusual disease, but described the epidemic as “containable” and proposed creating a stockpile to equitably share the limited vaccines and drugs available worldwide.
During a public briefing on Friday, the UN health agency said there are still many unanswered questions about how the current epidemic arose, but there is no evidence that any genetic changes in the virus are responsible for the unprecedented epidemic.
“The first sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is not different from the strains we can find in endemic countries and (this outbreak) is probably due more to a change in human behaviour,” said Dr Sylvie Briand, WHO's director of pandemic and epidemic diseases.
Earlier this week, a top adviser to WHO said the outbreak in Europe, US, Israel, Australia and beyond was likely linked to sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium. That marks a significant departure from the disease's typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates, and outbreaks haven't spilled across borders.
On Friday, Spanish authorities said the number of cases there had risen to 98, including one woman, whose infection is “directly related” to a chain of transmission that had been previously limited to men, according to officials in the region of Madrid.
Doctors in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Canada, the US and elsewhere have noted that the majority of infections to date have been in gay and bisexual men, or men who have sex with men. The disease is no more likely to affect people because of their sexual orientation and scientists warn the virus could infect others if transmission isn't curbed.
WHO's Briand said that based on how past outbreaks of the disease in Africa have evolved, the current situation appeared “containable."
Still, she said WHO expected to see more cases reported in the future, noting “we don't know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg (or) if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities," she said.
As countries including Britain, Germany, Canada and the US begin evaluating how smallpox vaccines might be used to curb the outbreak, WHO said its expert group was assessing the evidence and would provide guidance soon.
Dr. Rosamund Lewis, head of WHO's smallpox department, said that “there is no need for mass vaccination,” explaining that monkeypox does not spread easily and typically requires skin-to-skin contact for transmission. No vaccines have been specifically developed against monkeypox, but WHO estimates that smallpox vaccines are about 85% effective.
She said countries with vaccine supplies could consider them for those at high risk of the disease, like close contacts of patients or health workers, but that monkeypox could mostly be controlled by isolating contacts and continued epidemiological investigations.
Given the limited global supply of smallpox vaccines, WHO's emergencies chief Dr. Mike Ryan said the agency would be working with its member countries to potentially develop a centrally controlled stockpile, similar to the ones it has helped manage to distribute during outbreaks of yellow fever, meningitis, and cholera in countries that can't afford them.
“We're talking about providing vaccines for a targeted vaccination campaign, for targeted therapeutics," Ryan said. "So the volumes don't necessarily need to be big, but every country may need access to a small amount of vaccine.”
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
Sri Lanka hiked fuel prices on Sunday, creating further pain for ordinary people as officials from the United States arrived for talks aimed at alleviating the island's dire economic crisis. Ceylon Petroleum Corporation said it raised the price of diesel, used widely in public transport, by 15 percent to 460 rupees ($1.27) a litre while upping petrol 22 percent to 550 rupees ($1.52).
The Chinese city of Dandong, which borders North Korea, warned on Sunday of a persistent risk of new Covid-19 flareups as it gradually opens up from a weekslong lockdown. The city reported seven asymptomatic cases for Saturday -- half the total number of cases in all of mainland China for the day. Read: Beijing to reopen schools, Shanghai declares victory over Covid Beijing reported one case for Saturday.
Diana Villanueva's wasn't greeted by the crowds of protestors who often gather outside facilities in the United States to try to persuade women to change their minds. After you go through what you go through then you ponder what you did. That's when the remorse starts kicking in." "A lot of those ladies say: 'It's my body, my choice'. It's not your body; your body belongs to Christ."
A spying attempt on former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan has been foiled, Pakistan's ARY News reported. An employee was allegedly paid to install a device in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief's bedroom. PTI leader Shehbaz Gill claimed that an employee who cleans the former prime minister's room was paid to install the spy device, terming the act heinous and unfortunate. The PTI leader alleged.
The Hambantota Port is located in southern Sri Lanka close to the east-west sea route. Its construction began in 2008 which was funded through Chinese loans of about US$ 1.3 billion. The construction was carried out by a joint venture of China Harbor Engineering Company and the Sino Hydro Corporation. By 2016, the Hambantota Port under the ownership of Sri Lanka Ports Authority had incurred losses of about SLR 46.7 billion.