UK upgrades monkeypox threat
The monkeypox threat level has been ramped up in the UK and it is set to be listed as a “notifiable disease” in law starting from June 8, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Tuesday. The move means doctors in England will have to notify local authorities when they detect a patient suspected to have the virus.
“This new legislation will support us and our health partners to swiftly identify, treat, and control the disease,” the monkeypox incident director at UKHSA, Wendi Shepherd, said in a statement.
“It also supports us with the swift collection and analysis of data which enables us to detect possible outbreaks of the disease and trace close contacts rapidly, whilst offering vaccinations where appropriate to limit onward transmission.”
Moreover, monkeypox-related NHS testing and treatment will be free for everyone under the new guidance. The measure is expected to encourage people experiencing symptoms of the virus to come forward, including foreigners who would otherwise have to pay for treatment.
The announcement comes as Britain smashed past the 300 monkeypox cases mark. On Monday, 77 new cases of the disease were detected across the UK, with a vast majority of them identified in England.
Worldwide, the number of monkeypox cases has already surpassed 1,000, with the disease detected in some 29 non-endemic countries. On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stepped up its monkeypox guidance as well, upgrading its alert to level 2 and urging the public to “practice enhanced precautions” against the disease.