Belgium is the first country to introduce a mandatory quarantine for people with monkeypox. Those with symptoms will need to isolate themselves until their sores subside, which is expected to be around 21 days.
Authorities in Belgium have announced that those found to have the virus, which has many characteristics of smallpox, to isolate for 21 days.
A fetish festival in Belgium is warning that there could be exposure to monkeypox after public health officials linked three cases to the event that recently concluded in Antwerp.
A notice was posted on The Darklands Festival website Friday explaining that there was increased monkeypox exposure.
According to the website, Darklands is a four-day gay men’s event that includes a daytime festival, several nighttime parties, education, and shopping that includes “an extraordinary selection for fetish retailers at the gear market.” On May 9, the festival came to an end.
Scientists and researchers have made a correlation between the new spread of monkeypox and the gay community.
Gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men are particularly at risk, as evidenced by the recent outbreak in the U.K. which occurred amongst men in the LGBTQ+ community.
“The evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact,” Dr. Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the U.K. Health Security Agency, said in a statement released Monday. “We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”
Belgium’s Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke said in a statement Friday that three cases of monkeypox had been identified in the country’s Flemish territory. Vandenbroucke said the number of cases was being closely monitored after transmission had been reported in the U.K., Portugal, and Spain, mostly among men who have sexual contact with other men.
The disease has an incubation period of five to 21 days, so people have been warned to be vigilant for three weeks after they ay have been exposed.
The World Health Organisation says that people can catch the disease from close contact with skin lesions of infected people, from inhaling respiratory droplets, or from touching a contaminated object (such as a towel or bedding).
They said that transmission via droplet respiratory particles ‘usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk’.
Currently, there are a total of 76 confirmed cases and 65 suspected cases of monkeypox in countries where the disease is unusual, according to a dashboard, created by Italian management engineer Antonio Caramia.
“The recent outbreaks reported across 11 countries so far are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries,” the World Health Organization said in a statement Friday.
The current outbreak of monkeypox has resulted in over 1,300 suspected cases of the disease and 58 deaths. Until recently, the majority of new cases were concentrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, a chief medical adviser for UKHSA, spoke with BBC’s Sunday Morning program and stated that updated figures will be released on Monday as she warned of more cases “on a daily basis”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning program, Dr. Hopkins said UKHSA will be releasing updated figures on Monday.
‘We are detecting more cases on a daily basis and I’d like to thank all of those people who are coming forward for testing to sexual health clinics, to the GPs and emergency department.”