Monkeypox: Close contacts of people with virus no longer need to self-isolate

UK bought 100,000 more smallpox vaccines after they were found to be effective against monkeypox

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 20 July 2022 08:47 BST
The number of confirmed monkeypox cases in the UK has exceeded 2,100
The number of confirmed monkeypox cases in the UK has exceeded 2,100 (REUTERS)

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox no longer needs to isolate themselves as long as they have no symptoms.

The new advice comes from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which found that only a relatively small number of close contacts of those infected go on to develop monkeypox themselves.

It said: “Close contacts won’t need to isolate at home if they don’t have symptoms, based on the latest data about transmission of the virus.”

Its new advice comes as it said that it has procured 100,000 more vaccines as monkeypox cases continue to rise.

As of 18 July, there were 2,137 confirmed cases in the UK. The vast majority of these – a total of 2,050 – are in England, with a large proportion of these cases found in London.

While anyone can get the virus, the majority of cases in the UK have been found in men who have sex with men.

Some gay and bisexual men, who are at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox, have been recommended to get the smallpox vaccine Imvanex, as the UKHSA said the jab had been shown to be effective.

Dr Merav Kliner, deputy incident director at UKHSA, said: “While our advice on isolation is changing, monkeypox is still a serious public health challenge, and we urge contacts to take a break from any activities or events involving skin-to-skin contact, including sex, hugging and kissing to reduce the risk of the virus being passed on unknowingly.

“Stay alert to symptoms and call a sexual health clinic if you become unwell.

“Thank you to all contacts who have isolated already in response to this outbreak. We understand that isolation can be difficult but this was a necessary precaution whilst our knowledge of the outbreak was limited.”

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “Monkeypox is a rare and usually mild disease that does not spread easily between people, but we are taking action to help further manage the outbreak in the UK by procuring over 100,000 additional doses of vaccine.

“The NHS is already contacting those eligible for the vaccine, and I would urge people to take up the offer as soon as they are contacted.”

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