The United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency. Should Canada follow suit? – National

Following the United States’ declaration of monkeypox as a public health emergency on Thursday, questions are being raised about whether Canada should follow suit as case numbers continue to rise.

The American move follows a similar announcement late last month by the World Health Organization that monkeypox was declared a global health emergency – and in both cases these developments are sparking more attention and more money and other resources in the US to fight the virus.

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Monkeypox – US declares public health emergency amid outbreak

dr Don Vinh, an infectious disease specialist at McGill University Health Center, believes Canada, as a member state of the WHO, has an obligation to follow suit after the UN agency declared the monkeypox outbreak an international health emergency of concern.

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“We have to react accordingly,” he said. “I think formally declaring an emergency response helps to shepherd or direct administrations, which can be a bit ambivalent.”

Such a declaration in Canada would not have to look like the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most recent event that prompted a Canadian declaration of a public health emergency, he said.


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dr Fauci welcomes declaration of emergency over monkeypox, considers way forward


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But he said it could trigger the deployment of additional resources that would be helpful to those fighting the virus, where it is now spreading in Canada – and prevent it from becoming more difficult to contain in the future.

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“We now have a window of opportunity where we have some control,” Vinh said.

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“I think what we’ve seen with COVID is that if we do it in a kind of mishmash way — some cities or provinces do it one way and some do it another way, we’re going to lose our ability to control it.”

Canada has confirmed 931 cases of monkeypox as of August 5, up from 890 two days earlier, according to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Ontario now leads the country in case numbers, taking over Montreal, which until recently was the hotspot for the virus in Canada.

The number of cases is higher in the US, with more than 6,600 people infected with the zoonosis, which until recently had never been seen outside of central and west Africa.

Canada’s response to monkeypox

State governments and the Biden administration have been criticized for their slow response to the outbreak in the US, with clinics in big cities like New York and San Francisco saying they weren’t getting enough of the two-shot vaccine to meet demand and some had to stop offering the second dose to ensure the supply of the first dose.

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Monkeypox: New York is the second largest city to declare a state of emergency as cases spread across the US


Monkeypox: New York is the second largest city to declare a state of emergency as cases spread across the US

Canada hasn’t faced the same scrutiny and can be commended for acting quickly to tackle the outbreaks, especially in Toronto and Montreal — the country’s two main infection hotspots, experts say.

The Canadian response has been particularly effective in targeting the population that happens to have been hit hardest so far – men who have sex with men – and ensuring they have quick and easy access to vaccines and education about the virus through trusted sources are in their communities, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

So a declaration of emergency might not make much of a difference, except perhaps technically, he said.

“We treated this as an emergency,” Bogoch said.

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“We had a very relatively quick but very coordinated response that is ongoing and other places have not done so to the same extent.”

However, there is still room for improvement in Canada, particularly in breaking down barriers to care, testing and diagnostic capacity and expanding access to preventive measures such as vaccines, Bogoch added.

“But compared to other places, we are doing well. We really are.”

Asked if Canada was immediately considering declaring a public health emergency on Thursday, a PHAC official said Canada “acknowledges the WHO’s determination and recognizes that the worldwide monkeypox outbreak requires an urgent global response,” stressing that the federal government is fighting monkeypox have since prioritized the beginning of the outbreak in May.

Questions to the office of Federal Health Secretary Jean-Yves Duclos as to whether the government was considering a declaration of emergency were referred to PHAC.

The agency has deployed more than 80,000 doses of the Imvamune vaccine in provinces and territories, and supports decentralized testing by providing control materials and protocols to laboratory partners across the country, PHAC said in a statement.


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“PHAC continues to work closely with international, provincial and territorial health partners to gather information on this evolving outbreak and determine the best course of action to halt the spread of monkeypox in Canada,” said Anna Maddison, a spokeswoman for PHAC an email to Global News.

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“Canada will continue to work with WHO and international partners to strengthen the global response to the current monkeypox outbreak.”

While Canada’s actual case numbers remain lower than the US, the per capita infection rate is higher in Canada than south of the border, which is a data point to keep an eye on, says Dr. Sameer Elsayed, an infectious disease physician and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University.

For that reason, it might be reasonable for Canada to declare monkeypox a public health emergency in the near future, especially if case numbers continue to rise at current rates, he said.

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But with such a declaration would come the need to invest resources and additional funds into things like vaccination clinics, contact tracing, testing, education and other measures related to this virus, Elsayed said.

At a time when health care systems in every province and territory are facing a staffing and resource crisis that virtually every medical professional has termed a “crisis,” Elsayed believes that declaring a public health emergency across Canada is and should be more urgent go hand in hand with such a declaration for a single virus.

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That way, more resources and a greater sense of urgency would flow into many areas of the healthcare system that would collapse under the weight of large supply backlogs, waves of patients and a mass exodus of healthcare workers across the country, he said.

“We don’t have enough money in the system. So we need money for monkeypox, but we also need money for other diseases,” Elsayed said.

“It would be reasonable to declare a state of emergency, but only if we declare a state of emergency for our healthcare system in general, which is in shambles.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

https://globalnews.ca/news/9040418/monkeypox-canada-public-health-emergency/ The United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency. Should Canada follow suit? – National

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