Africa CDC urges increased surveillance against monkeypox

ADDIS ABABA, May 26 (Xinhua) -- The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Thursday warned African countries to increase surveillance against monkeypox and build strong infection control measures against the virus.

Ahmed Ogwell, Acting Director of Africa CDC, while addressing journalists in his period briefing said the agency has provided guidance to AU member states on increasing surveillance for monkeypox, establishing laboratory diagnostic capacity, expanding the knowledge of monkeypox amongst the clinical team, and putting in place infection control measures as countries engage with the communities that are at risk.

"We urge anybody who has symptoms to quickly seek medical attention; indeed, washing of hands, keeping your sanitizers in use, avoiding touching animals that look sick and avoiding touching animals that are known to be carriers of the monkeypox virus is highly encouraged for members of the public," Ogwell said.

Noting that the Africa CDC is working with all AU member states to step up surveillance for monkeypox, Ogwell said countries that are around endemic countries are on a much higher alert.

Concerning vaccines, he said one of the key tools in monkeypox outbreak is the use of vaccines and Africa is using the smallpox vaccines, which he said give very high protection.

He, however, called on the international community to assure an equitable share of vaccines.

"We are looking forward to a situation where the COVID-19 hoarding episode will not be repeated in this situation," he said.

"We hope the availability of vaccines will be based on where the risk is higher rather than who has access to it in terms of purchasing and the manufacture," he said.

The official added that four African countries have reported a cumulative number of 1,405 endemic monkeypox cases and 62 deaths during the course of 2022, accounting for a case fatality rate of 4.4 percent.

Endemic monkeypox is documented in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria, the official said. "Two other countries, Morocco and Sudan, are investigating suspected cases," Ogwell said.

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