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News > South Africa

Spread of Monkeypox in Africa Shows 'Worrying Sign', WHO Warns

  • Geographic distribution of monkeypox confirmed cases as of June 30, 2022.

    Geographic distribution of monkeypox confirmed cases as of June 30, 2022. | Photo: WHO

Published 30 June 2022

The number of confirmed cases in Africa accounts for 2 percent of over 4,500 confirmed cases globally.

With three African countries with no previous history of human monkeypox transmission reporting cases, the geographic spread of the virus on the African continent is a "worrying sign", warned Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Director for Africa.


WHO Declares Monkeypox Outbreak Not a Global Health Emergency

So far, Africa has reported 1,821 cases in 13 countries of which 109 are laboratory-confirmed in nine countries. Monkeypox has also been reported in three countries that have not previously had any human cases, namely Ghana, Morocco, and South Africa.

In the latter country, authorities have reported two confirmed cases with no travel history, which, according to the WHO regional office for Africa, suggests a high possibility of local transmission.

"The geographic spread of monkeypox to parts of Africa where cases have never been detected before is a worrying sign," said Moeti. "It is critical that we support national efforts to boost surveillance and laboratory diagnosis, which are the cornerstones of disease control."

The number of confirmed cases in Africa accounts for 2 percent of the more than 4,500 confirmed cases globally. However, there are many suspected cases in the region, 81 percent of which are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), underlining the need for increased diagnostic capacity.

Over the past month, five more African countries have received donations of reagents from partners, bringing to 12 the number of countries in the region with enhanced monkeypox diagnostic capacity. Another group of countries in West Africa will receive reagents after participating in a training.

"What happened in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout when Africa watched on the sidelines as other countries snapped up limited supplies must not be allowed to recur. There are some signs that this is already happening," said Moeti.

"The current global spotlight on monkeypox should be a catalyst to beat this disease once and for all in Africa. For this, we know vaccines are a critical tool."

Multiple clusters of the monkeypox virus have been reported within the past weeks in Europe and North America, regions where the virus is not normally found. On June 25, the WHO said the latest monkeypox spread in over 50 countries does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the highest level of alert the WHO can issue.

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