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UVRI starts testing for monkeypox

Prof Kaleebu explains how his lab works. UVRI PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) has started testing for monkeypox after the World Health Organization said that the disease has now become a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Speaking to URN on Tuesday, Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the UVRI Executive Director said they have so far conducted four tests at their laboratory in Entebbe and all the tests were negative.

According to Kaleebu, they have so far tested thirty samples where the twenty-six were taken to South Africa because the country had not yet secured reagents.

Globally, monkeypox cases hit an unprecedented high last week rising by 48 percent where 4,045 new cases were recorded compared to 2,740 cases in the previous week. This prompted the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to declare a PHEIC even though the committee of experts he had convened to study the issue did not advise him to do so, having failed to reach a consensus.

This declaration, Tedros said allows them to take additional measures to try and curb the virus spread. He adds that the announcement means that countries should put in place measures to quickly curb transmission once the disease is detected.

Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director of Curative Services in the Ministry of Health says no serious measures have been considered so far apart from the usual disease surveillance, especially at the border points.

Already, Olaro says some tests done by the Ministry of Health have found some people to have antibodies even as no active human case has been identified.

Since early May 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported from countries where the disease is not endemic, and continue to be reported in several endemic countries.

According to WHO, most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health-care facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.

The majority of cases reported in the past four weeks were notified from Europe.

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