Monkeypox test kits in Kuwait … WHO mulls alert status

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KUWAIT CITY, June 23, (Agencies): Informed sources said the test kits to detect the monkeypox virus have arrived in Kuwait, and they include a PCR test done on a sample of the nose, reports Al- Jarida daily. The sources told the daily, that the Ministry of Health requested a preventive vaccination against the disease and is waiting for its arrival, explaining that it will be given only in severe cases and those in contact only. It will not be mandatory for everyone as was the case with Covid-19.

The sourced stressed that the medicines that treat this disease are available; pointing out that the ministry has already prepared isolation rooms in a hospital, in case any infections are detected. The sources say the Health Ministry is fully prepared to deal should any emergency arise regarding monkeypox, pointing out that the ministry is still monitoring the situation and takes all measures to prevent the spread of the disease in Kuwait, while at the same time reiterating that the country is free of any such cases — infections or otherwise.

The UAE, Morocco and Lebanon have announced the monitoring of cases of the disease, at a time when the number of infections teached more than 1,500 in the world. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, and the first human case of it was reported in Africa in 1970.

The World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency. But some experts say the WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the grotesque inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic. Declaring monkeypox to be a global emergency would mean the U.N. health agency considers the outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” and that the disease is at risk of spreading across even more borders, possibly requiring a global response.

It would also give monkeypox the same distinction as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio. The WHO said it did not expect to announce any decisions made by its emergency committee before Friday. Many scientists doubt any such declaration would help to curb the epidemic, since the developed countries recording the most recent cases are already moving quickly to shut it down. Last week, WHO Director- General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the recent monkeypox epidemic identified in more than 40 countries, mostly in Europe, as “unusual and concerning.” monkeypox has sickened people for decades in central and west Africa, where one version of the disease kills up to 10% of people infected. The version of the disease seen in Europe and elsewhere usually has a fatality rate of less than 1% and no deaths beyond Africa have so far been reported.

“If WHO was really worried about monkeypox spread, they could have convened their emergency committee years ago when it reemerged in Nigeria in 2017 and no one knew why we suddenly had hundreds of cases,” said Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who sits on several WHO advisory groups. “It is a bit curious that WHO only called their experts when the disease showed up in white countries,” he said. Until last month, monkeypox had not caused sizeable outbreaks beyond Africa. Scientists haven’t found any mutations in the virus that suggest it’s more transmissible, and a leading adviser to the WHO said last month the surge of cases in Europe was likely tied to sexual activity among gay and bisexual men at two raves in Spain and Belgium.

To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed more than 3,300 cases of monkeypox in 42 countries where the virus hasn’t been typically seen. More than 80% of cases are in Europe. Meanwhile, Africa has already seen more than 1,400 cases this year, including 62 deaths. David Fidler, a senior fellow in global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the WHO’s newfound attention to monkeypox amid its spread beyond Africa could inadvertently worsen the divide between rich and poor countries seen during COVID-19.

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