Monkeypox: New guidance says high-risk contacts of cases should self-isolate for three weeks
People with the rare monkeypox virus and their high-risk contacts should self-isolate for three weeks and avoid contact with young children, the UK government has advised.
Since 6 May, there have been at least 20 cases of monkeypox detected in the UK, with health officials due to announce more recorded cases on Monday (23 May).
New guidance recommends people who have had “unprotected direct contact or high-risk environmental contact” with the virus, including household contact and sexual content, should now isolate for 21 days and stay away from vulnerable people and children under 12.
Dr Susan Hopkins, a chief medical adviser from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “We are detecting more cases on a daily basis.
“We know there’s been a period of restrictions across Europe, and we don’t know where this infection has come from and how it’s come into Europe.
“There’s no obvious connection in our cases in the UK to a single event.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that as of Saturday (21 May), it has confirmed about 92 cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox, with outbreaks reported in 12 countries where the disease is not typically found, including Spain, Portugal, the US and Canada.
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The organisation said in a statement on Friday (20 May): “WHO is working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease.”
Initial symptoms of monkeypox are flu-like, including fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
Although the virus has affected gay and bisexual men in the UK, a senior doctor has warned that this shouldn’t sway people’s idea of what causes the disease.
“We don’t want the idea that this is an STI to stick because that certainly hasn’t been proven,” Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told PinkNews.
“We do know that this particular funny cluster of monkeypox has behaved unusually, differently than we would expect it to, but it hasn’t been identified as an STI and we shouldn’t see it that way.”