Amid a rise in monkeypox cases globally, the Centre on Thursday asked states to ensure screening and testing of all suspect cases at points of entry and in the community as part of India’s preparedness against the disease.
It also asked the states and Union Territories to identify hospitals and ensure adequate human resources and logistic support to manage any suspect or confirmed monkeypox case.
In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that from January 1 to June 22, a total of 3,413 laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases and one death have been reported to it from 50 countries and territories.
A majority of these cases have been reported from the European region (86 per cent) and the Americas (11 per cent). This points at a slow but sustained increase in the spread of monkeypox cases globally, he said.
Considering this is the first time that cases and clusters are being reported concurrently in five WHO Regions, the global health body has assessed the overall risk of spread of cases as ‘moderate at the global level’.
“Continued expansion of monkeypox disease globally calls for proactive strengthening and operationalisation of requisite public health actions for preparedness and response against the disease in India also,” Bhushan said.
He reiterated some of the key actions that need to be taken by all states and Union Territories in line with the Health Ministry’s guidelines on the subject.
The key actions include orientation and regular re-orientation of all key stakeholders including, health-screening teams at points of entry, disease surveillance teams and doctors in hospitals about common signs and symptoms, differential diagnosis, contacts and contact tracing, among others.
Bhushan urged them to ensure screening and testing of all suspect cases at points of entry, and in the community, patient isolation until all lesions have resolved and scabs have completely fallen off, protection of ulcers, and symptomatic and supportive therapies.
Continued monitoring and timely treatment of complications remain key measures in preventing mortality, the Union health secretary said.
He also stressed that intensive risk communication directed at healthcare workers, identified sites in health facilities as well as the public about preventive strategies and the need for prompt reporting of cases needs to be undertaken.
The states were asked to ensure adequate human resources and logistic support at identified hospitals equipped to manage suspected and confirmed monkeypox cases.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges, it is vital we remain aware and alert about other public health threats and proactively prepare ourselves to tackle them,” Bhushan said.