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California declares emergency to combat spread of monkeypox

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California has become the second US state to announce a state of emergency as officials try to combat the outbreak of monkeypox.

“As part of the state’s ongoing response to the monkeypox outbreak, governor Gavin Newsom today declared a State of Emergency to bolster the state’s vaccination efforts,” the governor’s office said on Monday.

“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” the governor said.

He added that Californian authorities will continue to work with the federal government to get more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBT+ community to fight the stigmatisation of the zoonotic disease.

New York state made a similar declaration on Saturday.

Last week, the Newsom administration said that it was too soon to declare a public state of emergency. However, democratic state senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco pressed on the governor to declare monkeypox as an emergency.

“The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency, and we need to use every tool we have to control it,” Mr Wiener said.

Although endemic to several parts of western Africa since 1970, an outbreak of monkeypox cases in non-endemic countries was detected in May this year.

The viral zoonotic disease spreads through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, such as from hugging, cuddling and kissing, as well as through the sharing of bedding, towels and clothing.

Monkeypox is a rare and relatively mild viral infection. It has a six-to-16 day incubation period. Symptoms include a high temperature, headache, a rash, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, shivering and exhaustion, according to the NHS.

A high number of the cases seen so far have been in gay and bisexual men and men who have *** with men. But health officials and experts have warned that the virus can infect anyone and is not limited to a particular section of people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also warned against stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease.

“Public health officials are clear: stigma is unacceptable and counterproductive in public health response,” said Michelle Gibbons, executive director of the County Health Executives Association of California.

“The fact is that monkeypox is primarily spread by skin to skin contact and sharing objects like bedding or towels, without regard to *** orientation or gender identity.”

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency on 23 July after around 78 countries had reported more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox, with a bulk of the cases from Europe.

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