European Commission urges Member States to tackle monkeypox in coordination

European Commission urges Member States to tackle monkeypox in coordination
Distinctive swellings caused by monkeypox infection. Credit: Belga

European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides has urged the health ministers of the 27 EU Member States to work out a coordinated approach to the monkeypox virus, including contact tracing.

Priority needs to be given to scale up vigilance, case identification and reporting, isolation measures, contact tracing, prevention as well as clear communication campaigns, Ms. Kyriakides said in a letter to the health ministers that Belga News Agency was able to view.

According to the Health Commissioner, efficient contact tracing and isolation must ensure that the outbreak is brought under control. To this end, close contacts must be identified as soon as possible and informed of the risk of monkeypox infection. “I urge you to set clear guidelines,” Ms. Kyriakides told the ministers.

Awareness campaigns can also play a role, although communication should never become stigmatising, she warned.

Gay men currently seem to be the group most affected by the virus, but they “should not be victimised or marginalised”, the Commissioner said.

The European Commission has already purchased monkeypox vaccines for Member States. It is preparing additional purchases of Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine and Tecovirimat antiviral treatments for those Member States that wish to have them.

Almost 400 confirmed monkeypox infections have already been detected in Belgium. The World Health Organization reported last week that over 14,000 infections had been registered worldwide.

WHO last week declared the monkeypox outbreak an international public health threat.

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