China has begun screening inbound international travelers for potential monkeypox infections as human-to-human transmission has begun being reported in a number of countries where the virus was previously rare, according to the National Health Commission.
Incoming travelers arriving in China are already required to undergo seven days of centralized isolation to prevent the risk of COVID-19.Now, they will also be monitored for rashes and other symptoms related to monkeypox, according to the latest prevention and control guideline for monkeypox released by the commission on Friday.
Precaution against the disease has been heightened as more than 20 nonendemic countries have identified monkeypox cases since early May, and the spread has been reported among humans, according to the document.
Human-to-human transmission of the virus is mainly through close contact. It is also possible for the virus to transmit between people through respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated items, it added.
As rodents and primates are primary reservoirs of the virus, China will also restrict imports of these animals from Africa, where monkeypox has been endemic for years.
"Any animals suspected to have had contact with infected animals should be isolated and monitored for 30 days," the guideline said.
The disease's incubation period ranges from five to 21 days. Its death rate is estimated to be from around 1 to 10 percent, but most patients recover without special treatment. Young children and immunocompromised people are at higher risk of developing serious symptoms.
Research has shown that smallpox vaccines are effective at preventing monkeypox infections or reducing the disease's severity when being administered immediately following exposure to the virus. The commission said that domestic researchers are developing a new type of vaccine targeting monkeypox.
The World Health Organization ruled on June 25 that monkeypox was not yet a global health emergency.
However, Hans Henri Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a statement released on Friday that "urgent and coordinated action" is imperative to halt the virus' spread in Europe as cases had tripled in the region over the past two weeks.
Kluge said the continent now represents nearly 90 percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases worldwide since mid-May.