Have any countries introduced travel restrictions related to monkeypox?

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Monkeypox, a rare viral infection, is appearing in limited but increasing numbers in Europe.

While the disease is rarely fatal to humans, it has prompted some countries to put in place precautions and restrictions to limit its spread.

What is monkeypox and how is it spread?

Monkeypox is a viral infection that was first discovered in monkeys. It usually does not spread easily between people. It can, however, be transmitted by close physical contact through wounds and bodily fluids. Like the coronavirus, it can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets, the only similarity found between the diseases so far.

People most at risk of infection have usually had close household contact or sexual contact with an infected person. They may also be at risk if they have changed an infected person’s bedding without personal protective equipment.

Dr David Heymann, a top adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), has suggested that the current spread of the disease may have been caused by sexual contact between homosexual and bisexual men at events organized in Belgium and Spain.

Is monkeypox dangerous for humans?

While there are concerns about the monkeypox outbreak, those infected typically recover from the disease within weeks without requiring hospitalization. The mortality rate is less than 4%.

Symptoms of the virus are usually mild, but they can initially cause chills, fever, and body aches. After the fever passes, a rash often develops, which may be itchy or painful, and sores may appear on the face or genitals. Symptoms usually go away on their own after about 14 to 21 days.

Although there is currently no specific vaccine against monkeypox, a smallpox vaccine provides 85% protection because the two viruses are quite similar. Some antiviral drugs are being developed for monkeypox.

Those most vulnerable to the disease are immunocompromised people, pregnant women and children under 12 years old.

Which countries have monkeypox outbreaks?

More than 80 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in at least nine European countries, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia. The UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden have all reported cases of the virus.

The WHO has expressed concern that these recent outbreaks are “atypical…they are occurring in non-endemic countries.”

Monkeypox is not usually seen in Europe and is most commonly found in remote areas of Central and West Africa.

UK

The UK, where the outbreak was first identified, currently has 21 confirmed cases of monkeypox so far. On Monday, the first case of the virus was detected in Scotland.

Official guidelines from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) state that anyone who has had direct or household contact with a confirmed case should self-isolate for 21 days.

Spain

In Spain, the number of confirmed monkeypox cases has reached 34.

The majority of cases in Spain have been traced to an adult sauna party in Madrid which has been identified as a superspreader event.

Belgium

On Saturday, Belgium recorded its fourth case of monkeypox. Local media traced the outbreak to the Darklands fetish festival, where three people tested positive.

Belgium has become the first country to impose a quarantine for monkeypox cases.

Infected people must self-isolate for 21 days. Contact cases are not required to quarantine but are advised to remain vigilant and avoid contact with vulnerable people.

Portugal

On Monday, Portugal reported 14 new cases of monkeypox, bringing the total to 37. Many of those affected are thought to be young men.

Italy

The number of monkeypox cases in Italy has risen to four. Two of the cases are believed to have recently vacationed in the Canary Islands where parts are being investigated as another source of infection.

Denmark

Denmark reported its first suspected case of monkeypox on Monday. The person in question would have recently returned from a trip to Spain.

What are the travel restrictions in Europe regarding monkeypox?

Currently, the monkeypox outbreak has not resulted in the imposition of travel restrictions.

However, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, warned that “as we enter the summer season…with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I fear transmission is not accelerating”.

This could lead to tighter restrictions affecting travel to Europe this summer.

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