BEFORE the world could get to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect, there are reports another thing coming, another disease in the offing.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), since May 13, 2022, cases of Monkeypox have been reported from 12 member states that are not endemic for the virus, across three WHO regions.
While the epidemiological investigations are ongoing, there are early indications that the reported cases so far have no established travel links to usual endemic areas.
Available pieces of information show that the situation is evolving and WHO expects more cases of Monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries.
As it is, generally, immediate actions focus is on informing those who may be most at risk for Monkeypox infection with accurate information, to stop further spread.
Currently, available evidence suggests that those who are most at risk are those who have had close physical contact with someone with Monkeypox, while they are symptomatic.
The virus has so far been reported in 12 countries which include United Kingdom, United States Australia, Canada and Germany, which are all, according to the WHO, not endemic for monkeypox virus.
In normal circumstances and considering that none of the 12 countries is from Africa, one might think that Zambia is safe due to distance and geographical reasons.
However, ‘given increased globalisation and interaction among the peoples of the world, that is no longer true and just like what happened with COVID-19 within no time, the virus could be here.
It is for that reason that even the Zambian government could not keep quiet about the virus and yesterday commented on the situation.
Acting Health minister, Charles Milupi, emphasised the need for the citizens to continue observing whatever guidelines are given by the local health authorities, including adherence to high standard of cleanliness.
We, similarly, join the government in urging the people to be alert and continue turning up for COVID-19 vaccination to reduce the risk of fighting two viruses simultaneously.
A bit of information, according to the WHO, Monkeypox is a virus transmitted to human being from other animals, with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients.
It is caused by the Monkeypox virus which exists in two clades: the West African one and the Congo Basin (Central African) one.
It is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
Locally, there is need for the health authorities to continue updating the citizens on the issues so that misinformation and fake news do not take over and mislead the people.
There is similarly need for the local health authorities to start preparing against the virus should it spread to Africa and eventually Zambia!
Currently, we are aware that the WHO is also working to provide guidance to protect frontline healthcare providers and other health workers, such as cleaners, who may be at risk.
It is encouraging that WHO has also pledged to provide more technical recommendations in the coming days.
As they say, information is power especially against calamities like diseases!