India releases guidelines on how to avoid monkeypox

The country has recorded its eighth case of the viral disease and one death

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India’s Health Ministry has released guidelines on how to avoid contracting monkeypox, a day after the country recorded its eighth case of the viral disease and one death.

People have been advised to use sanitisers, wear masks and gloves, and avoid sharing bed linen and clothes with those who have tested positive for monkeypox.

The ministry urged the public to refrain from stigmatising infected people and called on them to dismiss rumours or fake news about the virus.

It also set up a task force to monitor monkeypox cases, assist in the expansion of diagnostic centres and explore the possibility of vaccine development or sourcing.

Southern Kerala recorded the country's first case of the viral disease in July. The total has since gone up to four, with one death.

India’s capital New Delhi has reported three cases, the latest being a Nigerian man, 35, with no recent history of travel abroad.

A suspected case was also reported in western Rajasthan state after a man, 20, began to exhibit symptoms. He was admitted to a government hospital for treatment and his samples sent to a laboratory.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, the body responsible for the formulation, co-ordination and promotion of biomedical research, has invited organisations and scientists interested in developing a vaccine to submit an “expression of interest”.

“Like … during the time of Covid … our scientists who come forward should be given an isolated virus so that its vaccine can be developed,” Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.

The government has begun to develop test kits and inoculations, he said.

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that originates in wild animals such as rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. It belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, although it is less severe.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is transmitted from one person to another through direct contact with skin lesions, bodily fluids and respiratory droplets.

It is a self-limited disease, with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks. While severe cases can occur, the fatality ratio has hovered between 3 per cent and 6 per cent in recent times.

The viral disease, which was once considered endemic to parts of Africa, has spread around the world in the past few months, with about 20,000 people infected in more than 78 countries, most of them in Europe and North America.

The WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday.

Mr Mandaviya met Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, to discuss the possibility of a developing a vaccine.

The institute was the first pharmaceutical company in the country to produce Covishield, the Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Updated: August 03, 2022, 11:38 AM