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The World Health Organization says the “continuous transmission” of the monkeypox virus worldwide could begin to reach high-risk groups such as pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals and children.

The WHO said on Wednesday it was investigating reports of infected children, including two cases in Britain, as well as further reports in Spain and France. None of the cases in children were severe.

The virus has now been identified in more than 50 new countries outside of countries where it is endemic in Africa. Cases are increasing in those countries too, and the WHO has called for speeding up testing.

Who says monkeypox risk is assessed as ‘moderate’

In an online briefing from Geneva, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanam Ghebreas said, “I am concerned about the continuing transmission because the virus will settle on its own and turn into high-risk groups, including children, immunocompromised and pregnant women.

The logo was unveiled at the World Health Organization building in Geneva, Switzerland on February 2, 2020.

The logo is pictured at the World Health Organization building in Geneva, Switzerland on February 2, 2020.
(Reuters/Denis Balibous)

According to the WHO, more than 3,400 monkeypox cases have been reported and one death, since it began to spread in May, has been mostly among men who have had sex with men in Europe. There are more than 1,500 cases and 66 deaths this year in countries where it is commonly spread.

Last week, the WHO outbreak did not yet indicate a public health emergency, indicating its highest level of alert. However, Tedros said the WHO was closely monitoring the spread and would reconvene the committee “as soon as possible” to assess whether it was still intact. [L1N2YE0YM]

Monkeypox is evolving more than previously thought, researchers say

The UN agency said that it is also working on the related mechanism Distribute vaccines more evenlyCountries, including Britain and the United States, are also protected from monkeys after indicating that they are ready to share their stockpiled smallpox vaccine.