Africa to witness 94% drop in COVID-19 deaths in 2022: WHO

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

The Federal Republic of Nigeria, the most populous West African nation, has been in the spotlight, reportedly as the birthplace of monkeypox, which was detected in several European countries between April and May.

During this couple of months, at least 11 countries have reported cases of monkeypox, namely Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, the United States and Australia.

Montreal, Canada has reported 17 suspected cases of monkeypox. According to the Ministry of Health, most cases are confirmed in homosexual men. Doctors fail to see the threat of a massive outbreak.

After studying the monkeypox situation in the UK, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it sees no reason for serious concern, and recommends no restrictions on travel to Britain or trade with the UK. The WHO has also not officially identified the origin of the disease virus.

Speaking at a briefing on May 17, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made only passing reference to “monkey pox affecting several countries.” Having analyzed cases of this disease in the UK, the WHO limited its recommendations to a standard set of hygiene requirements and did not insist on travel and trade restrictions for the UK.

As at the beginning of the coronavirus, Russia’s health officials denied that the infection was in the Russian Federation and it later became the worst-affected country in the former Soviet region. However, Russia’s Federal Service for Surveillance of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare said “the risk of the infection being imported into the Russian Federation has been and remains extremely low.” However, the health watchdog is taking all necessary measures to prevent this disease from being imported into the territory of Russia.

In late May, Russia reportedly asked the WHO to investigate the origin of the virus. The head of Russia’s Radiological, Chemical and Biological Protection Force Igor Kirillov said at least four US-run Biolabs operate in Nigeria, where the monkeypox pathogen strain originates and where the US deployed its biological infrastructure. Kirillov added that in this regard, it is necessary to point out a “strange coincidence that requires additional inspection by specialists.”

According to briefing slides from the Defense Ministry, two US-controlled biological laboratories operate in the city of Abuja, one in the city of Zaria and one in Lagos.

“In the context of numerous cases of US violations of biosafety requirements and acts of negligent storage of pathogenic biomaterials, we call on the leaders of the World Health Organization to investigate the activities of US-funded Nigerian laboratories in Abuja, Zaria, Lagos and inform the world community about their results,” Kirillov said.

Senator Konstantin Kosachev, deputy chairman of the Federation Council, also added his call for an urgent investigation. “Of course, the data from the Ministry of Defense on the possible origin and sources of the current spread of monkeypox, as in other cases, is very informative and deserves overwhelming attention. We will be discussing aspects associated with threats related to medicine and health protection at one of the commission meetings,” said the Russian senator.

Nigeria had confirmed 21 cases of monkeypox since the beginning of the year with one death reported, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) reported the Reuters news agency on May 30.

Monkeypox, a generally mild viral infection, is endemic in the African countries of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria. The NCDC said that of the 61 suspected monkeypox cases reported since January, 21 had been confirmed with one death, a 40-year-old man. The cases were reported in nine states and the federal capital Abuja.

“Among the 21 cases reported in 2022 so far, there has been no evidence of any new or unusual transmission of the virus, nor changes in its clinical manifestation documented (including symptoms, profile, and virulence),” the NCDC said. Six of the cases were detected in May, he said.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is usually mild and endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. It is transmitted by close contact, so it can be contained relatively easily through measures such as self-isolation and hygiene.

Health reports further stated that it is a rare viral disease that is mainly transmitted to humans through contact with infected wild animals (rodents or primates). Person-to-person transmission is limited as it requires close contact. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. It may be followed by a rash on the face and body.

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