Europe at 'epicentre' of monkeypox outbreak, WHO says

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Europe remains at the "epicentre" of a global monkeypox outbreak, the World Health Organization's European regional office said on Wednesday.

There are 25 countries in the region that have reported more than 1,500 cases -- 85% of the global total, they said.

"The magnitude of this outbreak poses a real risk; the longer the virus circulates, the more it will extend its reach, and the stronger the disease’s foothold will get in non-endemic countries," said the regional director for Europe Hans Kluge.

He urged patients with suspected or confirmed cases to be isolated until their symptoms are resolved.

The majority of patients with monkeypox have been among men who have sex with men with many patients -- though not all of them -- reporting multiple sexual partners, he added.

Kluge urged against stigmatising certain populations, saying the virus was not "attached to any specific group".

He also emphasised that there are "limited amounts of vaccines and antivirals for monkeypox and limited data on their use."

"Mass vaccination is not recommended or needed at this time," Kluge said, urging countries not to use a "me first" approach.

"I beseech governments to tackle monkeypox without repeating the mistakes of the pandemic – and keeping equity at the heart of all we do."

It came a day after the European Union announced that they would purchase 110,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine.

The World Health Organization has called the global outbreak "unusual and concerning".  They will decide next week whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency.

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