WHO: Africa Reports Nearly 1,400 Monkeypox Cases This Year

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KIGALI – Seven African countries have cumulatively reported nearly 1,400 monkeypox cases so far this year, with 1,392 suspected and 44 confirmed cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday as the number of infections worldwide continues to climb following the latest outbreak.

The cases have been reported in Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, Anadolu Agency quoted the WHO regional office for Africa as saying in a statement.

The number of cases in 2022 is slightly fewer than half of the cases reported in 2021.

While the virus has not spread to new non-endemic countries in Africa, within countries with outbreaks, it has been expanding its geographical reach in recent years, according to the WHO.

Until 2019, monkeypox in Nigeria was reported mainly in the south of the country. But since 2020, the virus has spread to its central, eastern and northern regions.

WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, warned against having two different responses to monkeypox — one for Western countries which are only now experiencing significant transmission and another for Africa.

“We must work together and have joined-up global actions which include Africa’s experience, expertise and needs. This is the only way to ensure we reinforce surveillance and better understand the evolution of the disease while scaling up readiness and response to curb any further spread,” she said.

Monkeypox was first detected in humans in 1970 in the African region, and since then, most cases have been reported in rural and rainforest areas.

In 2017, there was a sudden spike, with more than 2,800 suspected cases reported in five countries.

This surge continued, peaking in 2020 with more than 6,300 suspected cases, with the Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for 95 per cent of the total. The numbers then dropped in 2021 to around 3,200 suspected cases.

The recent monkeypox outbreak was reported on May 7, when the first European case was confirmed in an individual who returned to England from Nigeria.

Since then, around 260 confirmed monkeypox cases have been reported and about 120 suspected cases in 23 nations, where the virus is not endemic, according to the WHO’s latest update.