Health authorities in several European and North American countries have confirmed cases of monkeypox, a potentially serious viral infection, within their respective borders.
This has led to concerns pertaining to a rise in the number of infected cases as well as whether or not those concerns will eventually result in travel-related monkeypox restrictions and/or ban.
Here’s what we know so far about the monkeypox situation and the current bans and restrictions.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions. The infection typically causes fever, rash, swollen lymph nodes, and may lead to a range of medical complications.
Monkeypox is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as clothing, bedding, or other items used in healthcare settings.
In most cases, people typically recover within two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalised. In some cases, however, monkeypox can also be fatal.
Are there any related travel restrictions and bans now?
Currently, no countries have applied any travel-related monkeypox restrictions and bans. However, should the WHO declare a monkeypox international emergency, countries will most likely resort to travel and trade restrictions and bans.
As per the WHO, any person with suspected monkeypox disease should isolate during the presumed or known infectious period, i.e., during the prodromal and rash phases of the illness.
The following counties have implemented an isolation period for individuals who come into contact with the disease:
Belgium has been the first country to implement a compulsory 21-day monkeypox quarantine for those who have contracted the disease. All monkeypox patients are legally required to self-isolate for three weeks.
So far, the UK has confirmed 56 cases of monkeypox.
The Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has advised those at high risk of catching the disease (including household contacts and medical professionals) to self-isolate for 21 days.
However, no one in the UK with a confirmed case of monkeypox is required to self-isolate by law.
The decentralized public health organization in the Netherlands (GGD) announced that anyone who has come into contact with a monkeypox patient would be required to quarantine for up to three weeks. The GGD keeps in touch with people in isolation and has requested that they take their temperature every day and stay alert for symptoms.
Where has monkeypox been detected?
As of late, it’s been reported that the following countries have confirmed cases of monkeypox.
Canada, USA, UK, France, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Canary Islands, Israel, Morocco, Greece, Denmark, Austria, Argentina and Australia.
Has monkeypox been detected in the GCC?
No confirmed cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in any of the GCC countries.
In the case of the UAE, its health ministry is “proactively investigating and closely monitoring any suspect cases” of monkeypox.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has assured the public that the UAE is fully prepared to handle the spread of the viral infection.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has also assured the public that no monkeypox cases have been detected in the country so far.
Further, the Deputy Minister of Health for preventive health has stated that Saudi Arabia has the capability to monitor and discover any suspected monkeypox cases and is well equipped to combat the infection should any new case emerges.
This article was first published in Wego.