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Efforts to curb UK monkeypox outbreak inadequate, warn experts

Monkeypox is continuing to spread in the UK, with current efforts insufficient to curb the outbreak, experts have warned as a whistleblower claimed there were serious flaws in the support given to those who think they have been exposed.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there have been 1,552 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK related to the outbreak as of 7 July.

“[There is] no evidence that current strategies are likely to bring this to an end anytime soon,” said Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, although he noted that while total case numbers were continuing to rise, the rate of new infections may have plateaued.

The concerns came as a whistleblower working on a UKHSA monkeypox inquiries line said it had numerous issues, including offering little support for people who are not confirmed contacts of cases – i.e. somebody whose name has been provided to contact tracers by a person with monkeypox.

The Guardian has seen scripts that show even if someone calls because they are worried they may have had a contact with a confirmed case, they are told their risk is very low if they have not been formally identified as a contact. The whistleblower said that made little sense when a caller has said a sexual partner has monkeypox symptoms.

In addition, the whistleblower said call handlers were not allowed to suggest callers contact a sexual health clinic unless sexual health was brought up by the caller, They added that some clinics had turned off their phone lines.

The UKHSA has rejected the claims, saying the phone line is an additional service to provide non-clinical advice to members of the public.

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Source: The Guardian, 11 July 2022


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