Canada's monkeypox outbreak showing 'downward trend,' WHO head says

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), says Canada's downward trend in monkeypox cases is
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), says Canada's downward trend in monkeypox cases is

Canada's "sustained, downward trend" of monkeypox cases is "encouraging" to see, as several countries in the Americas deal with increasing numbers of infections, the head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

"In the Americas, which accounts for more than half of reported cases, several countries continue to see increasing numbers of infections, although it is encouraging to see a sustained downward trend in Canada," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said at a press conference in Geneva.

Some European countries like Germany and the Netherlands are also seeing a "clear slowing" of the monkeypox outbreak, he added.

He says the drop in cases demonstrates "the effectiveness of public health interventions" as well as the tracking of infections and prevention of transmission.

"These signs confirm what we have said consistently since the beginning: That with the right measures, this is an outbreak that can be stopped," the director-general said.

"And in regions that do not have animal to human transmission, this is a virus that can be eliminated."

Cumulative monkeypox cases in Canada as of Aug. 31, 2022

Canada has a total of 1,228 monkeypox cases, with the bulk of them in Ontario and Quebec, but the rate in which cases have been spreading has slowed in recent weeks, with just 169 cases reported since Aug. 12.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam hasn't commented on the monkeypox outbreak since Aug. 12, when she said it was "too soon to tell" if cases were slowing here, adding there may be "some early signs" that they are not increasing at the same rate as during the beginning of the outbreak.

Tam also said Canada will soon move to testing wastewater in different regions of the country to better track the spread of the disease, building off infrastructure developed to monitor COVID-19 during the pandemic.

WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said during a news conference Tuesday that it is possible to eliminate the monkeypox outbreak in Europe, highlighting evidence that case counts are slowing in a handful of countries.

There are encouraging signs of a sustained week-on-week decline in the onset of cases in many European countries, including France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Britain, as well as a slowdown in some parts of the United States, despite scarce vaccine supplies.

"We believe we can eliminate sustained human-to-human transmission of monkeypox in the [European] region," Kluge said. "To move towards elimination…we need to urgently step up our efforts."

The number of monkeypox cases reported globally also dropped by 21 per cent last week, reversing a month-long trend of rising infections and a possible signal the outbreak in Europe may be starting to decline, according to a WHO report released on Aug. 25.

The WHO reported 5,907 new weekly cases and said two countries, Iran and Indonesia, reported their first cases last week. To date, more than 46,000 cases have been reported in 98 countries since late April.