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African countries on high alert for disease outbreak

by editor

There have been no reported cases of monkeypox in Africa recently, but countries are on high alert to prevent and manage any eventuality as the disease continues to spread in non-endemic countries.

In Central and West Africa, where cases of the disease have been reported previously, countries near tropical rainforests are heightening surveillance for rapid detection of the disease.

Nigeria, one of the endemic countries, said it is well prepared to prevent and contain any outbreak of the disease.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Mohammad Abubakar, minister of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria, said it is working with others to intensify surveillance in animals and at wildlife entry points.

“The general public is advised to avoid contacts with animals that could have the virus including animals that are sick or found dead where monkeypox occurs,” Abubakar said.

Non-endemic African countries including Kenya and Tanzania have also issued red alerts.

Susan Mochache, Kenya’s health principal secretary, said the government has heightened surveillance at all entry points to detect any monkeypox case entering the country.

Godwin Mollel, Tanzania’s deputy minister for health, said on Tuesday that even though monkeypox has not been detected in the country, people should continue taking precautions against infectious diseases.

“I advise members of the public to avoid touching or eating a sick animal or carcass as well as touching any object used by a sick animal. The ministry continues to monitor disease trends and take appropriate control measures.”

Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, urged African Union member states to increase monkeypox surveillance.

The Africa CDC has provided guidance to AU member states on increasing surveillance and establishing laboratory diagnostic capacity so the virus can be easily laboratory diagnosed, Ogwell said.

This is in addition to informing clinical teams about monkeypox and putting in place infection prevention control measures as they engage with communities at risk.

The Africa CDC has established structures in its emergency operation centers on full alert mode to monitor the situation in the continent, he said.

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