Health

Sadiq Khan demands government take urgent action on monkeypox as London cases soar

Emily Chudy July 15, 2022
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Sadiq Khan calls for urgent action on monkeypox after majority of cases found in London

Sadiq Khan calls for urgent action on monkeypox after majority of cases found in London (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for urgent action on monkeypox after cases have surged in the capital.

Khan reported that monkeypox cases have soared in the capital, with 71 per cent cases in the current outbreak reported in London.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), between May 6 and July 11 this year, there have been 1,735 confirmed monkeypox cases in the UK – 1,229 were Londoners.

Metro reported that Khan has written to the newly appointed health secretary, Steve Barclay, about his concern over monkeypox, urging the government to act fast.

Khan said: “London is currently seeing the highest rate of infection and I’m deeply concerned that reported monkeypox cases have doubled in less than a week.

“If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that early action and coordination is vital to get ahead of the curve.

“The government must rapidly ensure that there’s a coordinated and resourced approach to tackle the threat faced by monkeypox now.”

Leading sexual health groups including the Terrence Higgins Trust and LGBT Foundation have signed a letter to Barclay warning that the monkeypox outbreak could become endemic if action is not taken.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent monkeypox from becoming endemic in the UK and we need to supercharge the targeted vaccine programme for gay and bisexual men,” the groups said.

“The current vaccination rollout is too slow with far too few being vaccinated. This is compounded by a lack of coordination between those who are responsible for its delivery and insufficient quantities of vaccine.”

The UK has purchased almost 30,000 doses of a smallpox vaccine which has proved to be about 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox.

Queer men and those who risk being exposed to monkeypox through their work are among those eligible for the vaccine, and it is also being given to those who have been exposed to the virus, as it can lessen symptoms.

The vaccine is being distributed by sexual health clinics and other services. Many clinics are targeting those considered high risk due to limited supplies – London’s 56 Dean Street advises: “Please don’t contact your clinic to get the vaccine, you will be contacted once more supply is available. You can also speak to your doctor or Nurse about it when you visit a sexual health service.

Despite LGBTQ+ men making up the majority of cases – with some saying this could be partly because those in the queer community tend to get more regular medical checkups – experts have reiterated that monkeypox is not a “gay disease” and is not sexually transmitted.

More: London, Monkeypox, Sadiq Khan

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