Health authorities in Britain issued new guidance to control the spread of the monkeypox virus in the country.
The guidance, issued by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as well as its counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, sets out measures for healthcare professionals and the people for managing the disease and preventing further transmission as “community transmission is occurring here in the UK and other countries”.
Latest official figures show there are now more than 100 confirmed cases in Britain. Globally, the WHO said at the weekend that there are 257 cases confirmed and 120 suspected cases in 23 countries where the virus is not endemic.
Included in the new guidance is for people to abstain from having sex while symptomatic with monkeypox, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Whilst there is currently no available evidence of monkeypox in genital excretions, as a precaution, cases are advised to use condoms for eight weeks after infection and this guidance will be updated as evidence emerges,” said UKHSA.
People who have possible, probable or confirmed monkeypox are being told to now isolate at home, if they remain well enough. Contacts of someone with monkeypox will also be risk assessed and told to isolate for 21 days if necessary.
Guidance has also been issued to doctors, nurses and health staff detailing the minimum recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff working with confirmed cases.
UKHSA also said on Monday that it had purchased more than 20,000 doses of a safe smallpox vaccine, which are being offered to identified close contacts of people diagnosed with monkeypox to reduce the risk of symptomatic infection and severe illness.
Ruth Milton, Senior Medical Advisor and monkeypox Strategic Response Director at UKHSA, said: “This new monkeypox guidance sets out important measures for healthcare professionals and the public for managing the disease, including how to safely isolate at home and reduce the risk to others.”
“The highest risk of transmission is through direct contact with someone with monkeypox. The risk to the UK population remains low.”
Although the new guidance includes similar precautions introduced for hospital and care home staff dealing with coronavirus, Paul Hunter, an expert in microbiology and communicable disease control, told Xinhua: “Monkeypox is not a Covid situation and it will never be a Covid situation.”
Hunter said scientists were puzzled as there currently seems to be no apparent link between many cases in the current wave of monkeypox infections.