THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) DECLARED MONKEYPOX A GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY, GIVING US ALL A FLASHBACK TO THE BEGINNING OF 2020.
This means that the WHO views the outbreak as a significant enough threat that a coordinated international response is needed.
There are currently more than 19,000 confirmed Monkeypox cases worldwide and 44 confirmed in Australia, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So how will this impact international travel?
Dr Michael Phillips, a chief epidemiologist at NYU Langone Health, told USA Today that those looking to make a trip shouldn’t worry.
“This is the time when people want to travel, and I’m sure they’re worried about losing their luggage,” he said.
The CDC issued a Level 2 travel health notice in late May warning travellers to “practise enhanced precautions,” advising travellers to take steps such as hand washing and avoid touching their face.
There is an approved vaccine for monkeypox in the U.S. and Canada and the disease is quite rare, as it only spreads through skin-to-skin contact.
Phillips said that a person’s risk of exposure while travelling has more to do with what you’re doing, rather than where you go. He said protecting ones self is a matter of “risk avoidance,” for example sharing a bed or having close physical contact with someone you don’t know and “being smart about that kind of thing.”
Smartraveller has advised that people in or near an outbreak follow the advice of local health authorities, be aware of the signs of infection, follow the local media for updates, and subscribe to the travel advice for their destination.
A representative from the department of health said that Australia is not considering any travel restrictions or border closures in response to monkeypox.
Fiji has introduced monkeypox screenings for travellers before they proceed to the immigration desk. The Islander nation currently has no confirmed cases of monkeypox.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry issued an overseas travel warning on Monday, urging travellers to air on the side of caution in regards to monkeypox.
The decision was made at a meeting of concerned government ministries and agencies to discuss Japan’s response to the WHO’s declaration of a global emergency regarding the expanding monkeypox outbreak.
The travel warning, the lowest “level 1” on a 4-scale system, is targeted at all countries and regions in the world.
While many travellers and agents around the world still have COVID on their mind – and it will probably be all they think about for years to come – monkeypox is different.
“It’s not rapidly transmissible like COVID or the flu or other respiratory viruses are, so with good public health measures, education … and vaccination, there’s good chances that this will be controlled,” Phillips said.