BY VANESSA GONYE/PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
GOVERNMENT says it is prepared to deal with monkeypox in the event that the virus, which has already affected 20 countries, is detected in Zimbabwe.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes monkeypox as a virus transmitted to humans from animals with symptoms very similar to those seen in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Responding to questions from journalists during Tuesday’s Cabinet media briefing, acting Information and Publicity minister Jenfan Muswere said plans were in motion to come up with a prevention strategy for the virus.
“There were slight deliberations around monkeypox in Cabinet, but this particular outbreak continues being registered globally. We are aware that it has been registered in Europe and as it continues, Cabinet will obviously put in place a team which will look into this particular issue. Deliberations around that issue have already started, which means that a framework will soon be developed to look into this particular issue,” Muswere said.
On Tuesday, WHO systems strengthening and policy adviser, Stanley Midzi also told journalists in Mutare that there was no need for Zimbabwe to panic over the disease as it can be easily managed regardless of its prevalence.
“Of note is how the monkeypox has been spreading in non-endemic countries. Monkeypox has been prevalent in Central African countries, and so scientists want to determine how it got to America and other least known countries.
“The vast majority of reported cases so far have no established travel links to an endemic area and have presented through primary care or sexual health services. The identification of confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox with no direct travel links to an endemic area is what is going to be interrogated by the scientists,” Midzi said.
In a statement this week, WHO said epidemiological investigations were ongoing, although the vast majority of reported cases so far had no established travel links to an endemic area, and had presented through primary care or sexual health services.
“Early epidemiology of initial cases notified to WHO by countries shows that cases have been mainly reported among men who have sex with men. One case of monkeypox in a non-endemic country is considered an outbreak,” the WHO statement said.
The statement also said the sudden appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for some time as well as recent amplifying events.
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