On July 21, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a second meeting of its International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee to assess the ongoing international monkeypox outbreak. On July 23, the WHO Director General issued a statement declaring that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Government of Canada’s top priority has been protecting the health of all Canadians. The Government acknowledges the WHO’s determination and will continue its work with provinces and territories as it has since the start of the monkeypox outbreak.
PHAC continues to work closely with international, provincial and territorial health partners to gather information on this evolving outbreak and to assess the possible risk of exposure of the monkeypox virus in Canada. Canada will continue to work with the WHO and international partners to strengthen the global response to the current monkeypox outbreak.
As of today, there are 681 confirmed cases of monkeypox across five provinces in Canada and these numbers are expected to continue to rise as the outbreak evolves. Since July 1, we have also seen a doubling of cases to date, the first case in a female, and the first cases in Saskatchewan.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released recommendations for the use of Imvamune®, a Health Canada-approved vaccine, for immunization against monkeypox. To date, the Government of Canada has deployed over 70,000 doses of vaccines to provinces and territories and continues to work actively with the provinces as they manage their public health responses. The government is also providing treatments for case management as requested by provinces and territories, as well as working to secure future national supplies of both vaccines and therapeutics.
Provincial and territorial public health authorities have launched their monkeypox vaccination campaigns and have started vaccinating populations at higher risk. While vaccination is expected to provide protection, a successful monkeypox outbreak response relies on a variety of public health measures including targeted public health education, equipping people with information they need to make informed choices. Everyone in Canada is reminded that they can help reduce the risk of becoming infected or spreading the monkeypox virus by:
- staying home and limiting contact with others if you have symptoms, or as recommended by your health care provider;
- avoiding close physical contact, including sexual contact, with someone who is infected with or may have been exposed to the monkeypox virus;
- maintaining good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; and
- cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and objects in your home, especially after having visitors
To lower the overall risk of getting infected with and spreading the monkeypox virus while we learn more about the virus, PHAC recommends that people in Canada use condoms and practise safe sex. Having fewer sexual partners, particularly anonymous partners, even when they don’t have symptoms, can also reduce your risk of getting infected.
Expert science panels continue to be held to advise on monkeypox, including potential research priorities and how to handle potential risks to Canada. Canada will continue to participate in WHO sponsored events to discuss knowledge gaps and research priorities for monkeypox, in view of the recent outbreaks of the disease in countries around the world.
PHAC continues to take action to address monkeypox in Canada, including:
- Ongoing activation of its Health Portfolio Operations Centre and its Incident Management Structure to Level 2, as well as ongoing activation of the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) Operations Centre to Level 2 to support the monkeypox response, conduct testing for those jurisdictions not performing their own;
- Working with provinces and territories to support decentralized testing by providing control material and protocols to both Canadian and International Lab Partners. With the support of the Government of Canada, provincial/territorial public health and health care systems are conducting case investigations and outbreak management while the NML continues to support investigations and outbreak management on a national scale;
- Collaboration with stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and affected communities, Chief Medical Officers of Health through the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network and international partners/networks, to raise awareness among populations at higher risk;
- Equipping public health leaders and stakeholders with the guidance and tools necessary to help manage cases of monkeypox;
- On July 21, 2022, the Government of Canada announced it is providing funding to support community-based organizations in the regions currently most impacted by the Monkeypox outbreak to reach at-risk populations with timely information on how to protect themselves and help slow the spread of monkeypox;
- Providing leadership to help improve overall understanding of the evolving monkeypox outbreak, including mobilizing experts and sharing available scientific evidence to inform domestic and global responses; and
- Providing regular updates on the monkeypox outbreak through public reporting and on Canada.ca/monkeypox as new information becomes available.
As the monkeypox outbreak evolves, the Government of Canada will continue to work with the WHO, international partners and with Canadian provinces and territories to determine the best courses of action to limit the spread of monkeypox in Canada. PHAC will continue to provide regular public updates as new information becomes available.
SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada