Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a new monkeypox virus is forcing people to stay indoors. Belgium on Sunday became the first country to introduce mandatory quarantine for those infected with the virus. The European country become the first to introduce a compulsory 21-day quarantine.
All reported cases were linked to a festival in the port city of Antwerp, Belgian health authorities have said. As of now, 14 countries reported a sporadic outbreak of the viral infection, including four in Belgium. While in the United Kingdom, which has so far reported 20 cases, doctors here warn of a significant rise in cases.
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This comes after Switzerland on Saturday detected its first case of monkeypox. Meanwhile, experts at the Belgian Institute of Tropical Medicine have predicted that the potential risk of a larger outbreak of monkeypox virus is considerably low.
Monkeypox is a disease in the same family as smallpox and symptoms include rash, fever, sore muscles and a headache. Monkeypox is less deadly than smallpox, with a mortality rate below 4%, but experts are worried about the unusual spread of the disease beyond Africa where it usually circulates.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection, which people usually pick up in the tropical areas of west and central Africa. It can be transmitted by very close contact with an infected person.
It is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. However, it can prove fatal with the strain causing the current outbreak killing one in 100 infected.
The disease, which was first found in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, as well as sexual intercourse, WHO suggested.
It can pass between humans via droplets in the air or touching the infected person. WHO has also warned that it is spreading in sexual networks, means it is likely to be a sexually transmissible.
It was first discovered in 1958. The first human infection was recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. The first case in the US and UK was reported in 2003 and 2018, respectively.