Monkeypox alert: Outbreak could be ‘tip of iceberg’, WHO says as cases hit 257

World Health Organization pandemic chief Sylvie Briand said the current monkeypox outbreak may be the “tip of the iceberg” as non-endemic countries report cases

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The monkeypox outbreak could be the “tip of the iceberg” as 257 cases have been recorded worldwide, a World Health Organization chief has warned.

The head of pandemic preparedness and prevention, Sylvie Briand, said there could be “many more cases” that have gone undetected in certain communities.

The first UK cases were reported on May 7th.

The WHO has now received reports of 257 confirmed cases and around 120 suspected cases in 23 countries, an update said on Sunday.

No deaths have been reported so far.

Ms Briand told the World Health Assembly in Geneva on Friday: “We don’t know if we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg [or] when there are many more undetected cases in communities.

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“We are still at the very, very beginning of this event.”

“We know we will have more cases in the coming days,” she said.

However, the expert added it was “not a disease that the general public should be concerned about”.

“It’s not Covid or any other disease that’s spreading fast.”

As part of its update yesterday, the WHO said the virus poses a “moderate risk” to general public health, despite cases being reported in countries that don’t typically have the disease.

It states: “The public health risk could become high if this virus takes the opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spread to groups at higher risk of serious illness, such as young children and the immunocompromised.”

WHO also said the sudden onset of monkeypox in several non-endemic countries at once indicates transmission that has been undetected for some time and recent amplifying events.

The agency added that it expects more cases to be reported as surveillance expands in endemic and non-endemic countries.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is usually mild and is endemic to parts of West and Central Africa.

It is spread through close contact and is therefore relatively easy to contain through measures such as self-isolation and hygiene.

Most of the cases reported so far have been detected in the UK, Spain and Portugal.

“The vast majority of cases reported to date have no established travel links to an endemic area and have been presented by primary care or sexual health services,” the UN agency said.

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