The number of confirmed cases of monkeypox in England has risen to 56, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said. It comes as experts warn it could become endemic in the UK.
Downing Street said there are no plans to hold a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee over monkeypox or to impose any travel bans. Asked about travel restrictions from affected countries, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, no considerations of that kind. What we’re seeing at the moment is community transmission not linked to travel.”
He said vaccines are being offered to close contacts but no plans for an “at scale” vaccination programme. “We do have vaccines procured at significant numbers, but given the nature of this and how we know it’s spreading, it’s thought to be no clinical requirement for that sort of at scale campaign,” he said.
Monkeypox is usually found in West Africa, and the virus does not often spread elsewhere. Transmission between people is occurring in the UK, with a large proportion of cases identified in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with other men community.
Monkeypox is not normally a sexually-transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex. It can also be spread through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash, and through the coughs and sneezes of somebody with the infection.