Egypt seeking raw materials to produce monkeypox drugs: Health minister

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Minister of Health Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar

Minister of Higher Education and Acting Minister of Health Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar. File photo/Egyptian health ministry

Egypt has not recorded any cases of monkeypox to date, Abdel-Ghaffar told Sada Al-Balad TV channel. 

Monkeypox is a viral infection observed in isolates in central and western Africa with minor outbreaks in recent years elsewhere.

The primary route of infection is thought to be contact with the infected animals or their bodily fluids.

However, the government has been raising awareness among the public regarding the viral infection, which has spread in several countries recently. 

Abdel-Ghaffar noted that Egypt’s plan includes obtaining the drug tecovirimat, which treats smallpox and related viruses, including monkeypox. 

Tecovirimat, developed by the American pharmaceutical company SIGA Technologies, received approval from the European Medicines Agency in January. 

The Egyptian scientific committee originally in charge of addressing the coronavirus situation in the country will give daily reports on the monkeypox situation worldwide, Abdel-Ghaffar added. 

Cases of Monkeypox have been detected in several countries recently, including Canda and in Europe, but no deaths have been reported.

Also, the United Arab Emirates reported its first monkeypox case on Tuesday. 

Monkeypox disease is usually self-limiting – meaning it typically resolves itself without treatment – the World Health Organisation has said, though it warned that severe cases can occur and that the disease’s fatality rate is around 3 to 6 percent.

Symptoms of the disease, which usually last from two to four weeks, include fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes. The disease can be transmitted to people from other infected persons or animals. 

Monkeypox is less contagious than the notorious smallpox, which was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980, and causes less severe illness. 

To prevent infection, the Egyptian health ministry advises people to not touch sick or dead animals that are found in places where monkeypox spreads. 

People infected with the virus should be isolated and animals carrying the virus should be quarantined, the ministry has said. 

The ministry also urges people to wash hands well with water and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitisers and use masks and gloves when providing care to people infected with the virus.

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