UK monkeypox isolation rules are declared with a 21-day quarantine for those at highest risk

Guidelines, introduced in 2018 after the first cases of monkeypox were discovered in the UK, say contacts will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with those at risk told to avoid immunocompromised people, children under 12 and pregnant women

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Monkeypox: UK health agency is urging people to watch out for symptoms

Contacts of high-risk monkeypox patients must be isolated for three weeks, according to guidance from UK health chiefs.

Others who have had lower exposure are advised to stay away from children, people with conditions that affect their immune system and pregnant women – but they don’t have to stay home.

guidelines Introduced in 2018 that anyone identified as a contact would be assessed “on a case-by-case basis” to help contain the disease.

Those identified as vulnerable are divided into three categories, with those at the highest level being quarantined for 21 days.

The rules were introduced in the following cases of monkeypox in 2018 and have not changed in light of the recent outbreak.

Scroll down to view instructions for each contact category

The hands of a monkeypox patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo



The UK has confirmed 20 cases of monkeypox in the last two weeks – down from just seven cases since the virus was first detected in humans in 1970.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced that there are 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases in 12 countries where monkeypox is not endemic.

The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said those who come into contact with a case of monkeypox will be given advice depending on their level of exposure.

A UKHSA spokesman said: “The maximum length of isolation for the highest contact category is 21 days from the time they interacted with someone with monkeypox.

“However, depending on the specific exposure circumstances of that person, isolation advice will be given on a case-by-case basis, so it differs between different contacts.”

The virus causes a rash that spreads throughout the body before forming a scab


(Getty Images)

Level three – High risk

These are people who have unprotected direct contact or high-risk contact with people with monkeypox.

For people in this situation, health chiefs advise:

  • Self-isolation for 21 days, including suspension from work
  • No travel allowed
  • If possible, avoid contact with immunocompromised people, pregnant women and children under the age of 12

The document states that those who come into this contact most likely had “household contact” and “sexual contact” with the individual with monkeypox.

You are likely to be exposed to direct skin trauma, bodily fluid, or objects such as a patient’s clothing or bedding without wearing PPE.

Tier two – Medium risk

These are people who have not had contact with broken skin or wounds but may still have had physical contact or may have contracted the virus through droplet infection.

This includes those who have touched unbroken skin or who have been within three feet of someone with monkeypox — such as a person right next to them on an airplane.

Guidelines for dealing with outbreaks of the virus were introduced in the UK in 2018


(Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF)

While not required to isolate, health protection teams must be in contact daily for 21 days after exposure to check if they are showing any symptoms.

They are advised not to come into contact with immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women and children under the age of 12.

The guidelines say they can be suspended from work for three weeks if their work requires contact with people who fall into these categories.

Level one – low risk

This group includes people who have had close contact with monkeypox patients while wearing PPE or who were within one and ten feet of a case.

This includes people seated within three rows of an infected person on an airplane.

They do not have to live under restrictions but are encouraged to contact their local health protection team if they show symptoms.

dr Susan Hopkins said cases of monkeypox are increasing in the UK



What do experts say?

dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said there is “absolutely” community transmission of monkeypox in the UK.

She also said cases have been overwhelmingly confirmed in people who self-identify as gay or bisexual.

Speaking to BBC One on Sunday morning, she said: “We are definitely finding cases that have no identified contact with an individual from West Africa, which we have seen before in that country.

“Community transmission is largely concentrated in urban areas and we see it predominantly in people who self-identify as gay or bisexual, or in other men who have sex with men.”

When asked why it’s found in this demographic, she said: “It’s because of the frequent close contacts they may have.

“We would recommend anyone who regularly switches sex partners or has close contact with people they don’t know to call in if they get a rash.”

British doctors see monkeypox cases spreading between people


(Getty Images)

How is monkeypox transmitted?

Experts say monkeypox doesn’t spread easily between people.

The UKHSA says: “The spread of monkeypox can occur when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal (rodents are thought to be the primary animal reservoir for transmission to humans), people or materials contaminated with the virus. Monkeypox has not been documented in animals in the UK.

“The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).”

It is said that the main means of transmission from person to person are:

  • Contact with clothing or linens (such as sheets or towels) used by an infected person
  • direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs
  • Coughing or sneezing by a person with a monkeypox rash
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What are the symptoms?

Those who do get sick typically make a full recovery within four weeks, health officials believe.

But the virus can be deadly and is believed to have a mortality rate of around one percent.

The first signs of infection are:

  • Fever
  • headache
  • Muscle cramp
  • back pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A rash usually develops over five days, often starting on the face and then spreading throughout the body.

These marks usually turn into scabs that eventually fall off.

UKHSA says: “A person is contagious until all scabs have fallen off and there is intact skin underneath. The crusts may also contain infectious viral material.”

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