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Monkeypox Unlike Coronavirus, Won’t Spread Like Wildfire: ICMR's Top Virologist to News18

Several other European countries have reported their first confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox. (Reuters)

Several other European countries have reported their first confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox. (Reuters)

The country’s top health research arm is closely monitoring the global surge of monkeypox virus and evaluating the possible options

Unlike coronavirus, monkeypox will not spread like wildfire, but vigil has been stepped up across India, Dr Nivedita Gupta, head of virology at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) told News18.com.

The country’s top health research arm is closely monitoring the global surge of monkeypox virus and evaluating the possible options.

With nearly 100 confirmed cases in over 12 countries, monkeypox has triggered a fresh concern over a new health crisis, even as the world is still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The virus won’t spread like wildfire as we feared for coronavirus,” said Gupta, adding “the virus requires large droplets to cause infections and hence is not much transmissible”.

“Also, a prolonged face-to-face contact with the disease carrier is required, which in many cases is unlikely. Hence, its spread is not as rapid as Covid-19.”

Gupta emphasised that it’s not a new virus and has been in existence in some African regions and has caused sporadic outbreaks.

The ICMR has designated the virus as exotic and all samples are being sent to the Pune lab for testing.

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“All viruses which don’t exist in India are labelled exotic and their samples are sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, which is a BSL4 facility,” she said.

The facility ensures there are no chances of leakage of virus in India, leading to an outbreak here. “This communication has been sent to all airports. All samples of incoming passengers will be sent to the NIV.”

Gupta added that while “right now, we don’t have vaccines that work for monkeypox, people who were earlier vaccinated against smallpox are safe and protected”.

However, the only policy right now is to monitor the global scenario, step up the vigil and expand testing, she added.

Also, the health ministry is preparing guidelines on monkeypox, which are likely to be released soon.

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