The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that it aimed to contain the monkeypox outbreak by stopping human transmission to the maximum extent possible, warning that the potential for further transmission in Europe and elsewhere this summer is high.
In a statement, the WHO said its European Region "remained at the epicenter of the largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported outside of endemic areas in western and central Africa."
Responding to the rise in cases of monkeypox throughout Europe over the past two weeks, WHO's Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge outlined the steps required to "rapidly investigate and control this fast-evolving situation."
The WHO European office is concerned that the recent lifting of pandemic restrictions on international travel and events could act as a catalyst for rapid transmission.
"Monkeypox has already spread against the backdrop of several mass gatherings in the region. Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur," Kluge said in the statement.
"The potential for further transmission in Europe and elsewhere over the summer is high."
He called for the strengthening of "cross-country collaboration and information-sharing mechanisms, heightened surveillance, and community communication" to prevent misinformation from being "amplified online and through other sources, leading to negative public health outcomes."
"Our goal is to contain this outbreak by stopping human-to-human transmission to the maximum extent possible," said Kluge, calling on efforts to increase awareness of monkeypox and share information on how people can reduce their risk of exposure.
The extensive measures used to combat COVID-19 are not required to tackle monkeypox in Europe, he said, "because the virus does not spread in the same way."
Also on Tuesday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the country has recorded 190 confirmed monkeypox cases since May 7.
According to UKHSA, the risk to the UK population remains low, but the agency "is asking people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body."