Loose Women: Denise calls Monkeypox reports 'scaremongering'
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Mateo Prochazka, head of the UK Health Security Agency, warned that “everyone who has a rash” is calling the helpline, overloading the system. Mr Prozchazka urged Britons to use local sexual health services rather than 111, so that staff can focus on other health queries. The total number of cases has risen above 100 after another 16 cases of the disease were found in England.
Health officials plan to start isolating pets as a way to contain the virus.
There have been 106 cases across Britain since the first was detected on May 6.
Wales and Northern Ireland declared their first cases on Thursday, while Scotland has so far logged three.
Mr Prochazka told The Daily Telegraph: “Sexual health clinics are not just for gay and bisexual men.
“Anyone can be seen in a sexual health clinic, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity. Everyone is welcome.”
He added during a webinar hosted by HIV prevention campaigners Prepster: “There are other potential routes of trying to get yourself into the system, maybe calling NHS 111, but this resource has been really overloaded with everyone calling who had a rash.”
The Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group, who advise the UK government, has called for pet hamsters, rabbits and other rodents owned by infected patients to be isolated for three weeks.
The group warned these animals are at the highest risk of catching the virus and could spread it into wild populations.
Experts fear that if the virus does make it into wild animal populations, it will become endemic and hard to eradicate.
This is already the case in parts of western and central Africa.
In new guidance issued on Friday, the group said: “Based on current evidence, for pet rodents in households where there are infected people, temporary removal from the household for a limited quarantine period (21 days) and testing to exclude infection is recommended, particularly where there are infected human contacts who have had close direct and prolonged contact with the animal or its bedding and/or litter.”
They went on to warn that hedgehogs, rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits and hares could all harbour the virus if monkeypox did spill into Britain’s wildlife populations.
However, officials remain confident the outbreak will not grow exponentially like Covid.
They said the risk to the public remains low.
Regardless they have urged Briton, especially men who have sex with men, to be on the lookout for any new rashes or lesions which may appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.
Anyone worried about a rash is advised to immediately call their sexual health clinic.
Twenty countries across the world have now been affected by the current outbreak, with Finland today becoming the latest to confirm an infection.
Additionally, Argentina, Bolivia and Sudan are all probing suspected cases.
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