16:18 20 July 2022
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned the government to urgently address the spread of monkeypox after 71 percent of recent cases were reported in the capital.
According to figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there have been 1,735 confirmed cases in the UK between 6 May and 11 July this year, of which 1,229 were in London.
This compares to just seven cases registered in the UK between 2018 and 2021.
Mr Khan has said he is “deeply concerned” about the spread and has urged the recently appointed Health Minister Steve Barclay to take action.
This follows calls from charities including the National Aids Trust and the Terrence Higgins Trust for the NHS and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to fight the outbreak as soon as possible.
Mr Khan said: “London currently has the highest number of infections and I am deeply concerned that the number of monkey pox cases reported has doubled in less than a week.
“If we have learned anything from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that early action and coordination are vital to leading the way.
“The government needs to act quickly to ensure that there is a coordinated and well-equipped approach to address the threat that monkeypox now faces.”
According to the UKHSA, the majority of people affected by the virus during this year’s outbreak were men, at 99.4 percent.
For confirmed cases where gender information was available, 1,633 were males and only 10 females.
Monkeypox is related to smallpox and cases are usually found in West and Central Africa, with the virus not often spreading elsewhere.
The disease, which was first discovered in monkeys, is usually mild, but can cause serious illness in some cases.
Most patients experience fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue, but some may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The DHSC said it urges people to watch out for new sores or blisters, especially if they’ve been in close contact with a new partner.
If people think they have these symptoms, they should avoid close contact with others and call NHS 111 or their local sexual health centre.