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Canada's Health Minister Gave A Monkeypox Update After 10 More Quebec Cases Were Confirmed

"We expect more cases to be confirmed in the coming days."

MTL Blog, Staff Writer
​A close-up of monkeypox virus particles in colour with mature oval units shown in pink and immature ones in blue.

A close-up of monkeypox virus particles in colour with mature oval units shown in pink and immature ones in blue.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed 15 cases of monkeypox in the country, over a dozen of which have been recorded in Montreal. The city has 13 confirmed cases of the rare infection and is now investigating 14 more. The monkeypox virus causes face and genital lesions and has never before spread outside of western Africa in such numbers.

"Samples from other jurisdictions in Canada are on the way to PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory for testing and we expect more cases to be confirmed in the coming days," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.

"Our surveillance system is working, as is our testing system, though we will continue to refine both, including supporting provinces and territories in building their own testing capacities so cases can be identified and traced even more efficiently."

Quebec was among the first provinces to submit samples for testing and the first two cases of the rare viral illness were confirmed on May 20.

Those results prompted the federal government to meet with the Chief Medical Officers of Health to formulate a containment plan. They determined that an early step to stem outbreaks is to send smallpox vaccines to areas with active cases. Inoculations for smallpox have proven up to 85% effective against monkeypox, according to data from the WHO.

Duclos said Quebec has accepted the government's offer to receive a vaccine shipment, which will arrive this week.

"This is a different situation than we saw ourselves in with the emergence of COVID-19. While global understanding of the monkeypox virus is still evolving, we do have a supply of vaccines, which we will be sure to maintain, and we are working hand-in-hand with our provincial and territorial counterparts to rollout our response plan as quickly as possible," said the Health Minister.

Monkeypox symptoms include fever, night sweats, headache, swollen glands, and joint or muscle pain, followed by skin lesions in the mouth and genitals. The incubation period can last up to 21 days.

Public Health recommends that anyone who has had sexual contact or been living with a suspected case or symptomatic person should isolate and monitor themselves for signs of the disease.

Anyone symptomatic is advised to seek a health care professional for an evaluation, wear a mask, and cover their lesions.

"This disease spreads via close contacts – so public health measures like physical distancing, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette such as wearing masks can help reduce your risk," said Duclos.

The federal government is working on infection prevention and control guidance, along with contact management protocols and isolation advice.

So far, no one who has caught the disease in Canada has become seriously ill.

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