Summer festivals and parties are expected to result in further cases of the monkeypox virus, according to the World Heath Organisation (WHO).
It emerged yesterday that suspected patients here who present to emergency departments over a weekend will have to wait until Monday before seeing infectious disease consultants.
Two cases of the virus have been confirmed here and health authorities are on alert for further cases.
WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge said yesterday that the European region remains at the epicentre of the largest monkeypox outbreak ever reported outside of endemic areas in west and central Africa. It is unclear how well it can be contained.
Guidance issued here to hospital emergency departments says that infectious disease services are only available Monday to Friday between 9-5pm.
The infectious disease team is needed to determine if the patient with suspected symptoms needs to be tested.
The suspected patient needs to self-isolate until they get a result.
Mr Kluge said yesterday that based on the case reports to date, this outbreak is currently being transmitted through social networks connected largely through sexual activity, primarily involving men who have sex with men.
Many – but not all cases – report fleeting or multiple sexual partners, sometimes associated with large events or parties.
He added: “We must remember, however, as we have seen from previous outbreaks, that monkeypox is caused by a virus that can infect anyone and is not intrinsically associated with any specific group of people. The gay and bisexual communities have high awareness and rapid health-seeking behaviour when it comes to their and their communities’ sexual health.
“Indeed, we should applaud them for their early presentation to health-care services.
“Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur.
“But they also provide powerful opportunities to engage with young, sexually active and globally mobile persons to raise awareness and strengthen individual and community protection.
“We do not yet know whether the monkeypox virus can also spread from one person to another through semen or vaginal fluids, nor whether the virus could persist in these bodily fluids for longer periods of time.”
Most people will have a mild but unpleasant and potentially painful disease that may last for several weeks.
“We do not yet know what health impact there will be in individuals who can have severe outcomes from monkeypox, particularly young children, pregnant women and people who are immune-compromised,” he added.
Monkeypox will not require the same extensive population measures as Covid-19 because the virus does not spread in the same way, he added.