Monkeypox: Cases rise to 2,859 as UK outbreak ‘showing early signs of plateauing’

The number of confirmed and highly probable monkeypox cases in the UK has risen to 2,859, as health officials said the outbreak was showing “early signs of plateauing”.

In its latest announcement, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said anyone can contract monkeypox, particularly those who have close contact with an infected, symptomatic individual.

Currently, most cases are among gay and bisexual men, the agency added, while London has registered over 70 per cent of cases in England.

Dr Meera Chand, the UKHSA’s director of clinical and emerging infections, said: “While the most recent data suggests the growth of the outbreak has slowed, we cannot be complacent. Be vigilant of and check yourself for monkeypox symptoms, including rashes and blisters.

“If you are concerned that you may have monkeypox symptoms, take a break from events, meeting with friends or having sexual contact. Instead, stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice.”

But the Terrence Higgins Trust, which helped coordinate the national response to the viral infection, said “time is slipping away quite quickly” to limit the outbreak to the capital, with concerning rises reported in Manchester and Brighton.

It’s believed the infection is being transmitted out of London via sexual networks. Ms Smith said there was evidence of men, who account for the vast majority of monkeypox cases, travelling to the capital to attend sex events, such as fetish nights, and contracting the virus before returning home.

“The events are based in London, but the people that are attending it and potentially exposed to monkeypox may live elsewhere,” said Ms Smith. “That’s something that we’ve been seeing throughout the outbreak. So there have been little pockets of diagnoses around the country. It’s really hard to be proved, but a lot of it does seem to be linked back to London.”

LGBT+ groups from across the political spectrum also urged the government to increase efforts to combat monkeypox or risk it becoming “endemic” in the UK.

UK health authorities have urged calm, but now those inside Westminster have called on health secretary Steve Barclay to take action due to monkeypox “causing real fear and anxiety” within the queer communities.

“We are united as LGBT+ groups from across political parties in asking that the government treat the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency,” a letter to Mr Barclay signed by the LGBT+ groups for the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish National Party said.

“We cannot afford to allow monkeypox to become endemic in the UK. Luckily, we have the tools required to stop this outbreak and prevent further risk to health now. We ask that you do so urgently.”

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