The U.S. declared monkeypox a health emergency. Should Canada follow suit?

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In the wake of the United States’ declaration of monkeypox as a public health emergency on Thursday, questions are being raised about whether Canada should follow suit as case numbers continue to rise.

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The US move follows a similar announcement late last month by the World Health Organization declaring monkeypox a Granthshala health emergency – and in both cases, these developments garner more attention and, in the US, efforts to fight the virus. for more money and other resources.

An infectious disease specialist at McGill University Health Center, Dr. Don Vinh says he believes Canada, as a WHO member state, has an obligation to follow suit now that the UN agency has declared the monkeypox outbreak an international public health emergency Is. Worry

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“We need to respond accordingly,” he said. “I think formally declaring an emergency response helps cowboy or run administrations, which can be a little vague.”

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Such a declaration in Canada would not have to look like a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most recent event in Canada to declare a health emergency, he said.

But he said it could trigger the deployment of additional resources that would be helpful to those fighting the virus where it is spreading now in Canada – and keep it from becoming harder to contain in the future.

“Right now we have a window of opportunity where we have some control,” Vinh said.

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“I think what we have seen with COVID is that, if we have a hodgepodge approach to it – some cities or provinces do it one way and others do it a different way – we control You’re going to lose your opportunity to do this.”

Canada has 931 confirmed cases of monkeypox as of August 5, up from 890 two days ago, according to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Ontario now leads the country in case numbers, taking over from Montreal, which until recently was Canada’s hottest spot for the virus.

The number of cases is high in the Americas, with more than 6,600 people infected with the zoonotic disease that, until recent months, had never been seen outside Central and West Africa.

State governments and the Biden administration have faced criticism for their slow response to the outbreak in the US, with clinics in major cities such as New York and San Francisco saying they have not received enough two-shot vaccines to meet demand, And some have had to stop giving the second dose to ensure the supply of the first dose.

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Canada has not faced the same scrutiny and, experts say, can be especially commended for acting swiftly to contain the outbreak in Toronto and Montreal – the country’s two main areas of infection. .

Canada’s response has been remarkably effective in targeting the population that has been most affected to date – men who have sex with men – ensuring they have quick and easy access to vaccines. And getting education about the virus through reliable sources. In their communities, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

So the emergency declaration doesn’t make much difference, except perhaps in technical terms, he said.

“We are treating this as an emergency,” Bogoch said.

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“We had a very relatively rapid, but very coordinated response that is underway and didn’t do it to the same extent elsewhere.”

However, Canada still has room for improvement, particularly in reducing barriers to care, testing and diagnostic capability, and expanding access to preventive measures such as vaccines, Bogoch said.

“But we are doing fine relative to other places. We really are.”

Asked whether Canada was considering declaring a public health emergency on Thursday, a PHAC official said Canada “accepts the WHO’s determination and believes that there is an immediate Granthshala response to the Granthshala monkeypox outbreak.” is required” and stressed that the federal government treated monkeypox as a priority. The beginning of the outbreak in May.

Questions sent to the office of Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos were asking whether the government was considering an emergency declaration, which PHAC was postponed.

The agency has deployed more than 80,000 doses of the immune vaccine to provinces and territories and is supporting decentralized testing by providing control materials and protocols to lab partners across the country, PHAC said in a statement.

Anna Madison, a spokeswoman for PHAC, said: “PHAC will work with international, provincial and regional health partners to gather information about this evolving outbreak and determine the best course of action to stop the spread of monkeypox in Canada. continues to work.” An email for Granthshala news.

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“Canada will also continue to work with WHO and international partners to strengthen the Granthshala response to the current monkeypox outbreak.”

While Canada’s actual number of cases is lower than that of the US, the per capita infection rate in Canada is higher than in the south of the border, which is a data point that should be taken into account, says Dr. Samir Elsaid, an infectious disease specialist. He is a physician and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University.

That’s why it may be appropriate for Canada to consider declaring monkeypox as a public health emergency in the near future, especially if case numbers continue to rise at current rates, he said.

But with such an announcement, resources and additional funds will need to be poured into vaccine clinics, contact tracing, testing, education and other things for this virus…


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