New monkeypox infections are “steadily decreasing” in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says.
The drop in infections reflects a global trend reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday. It said the number of weekly new cases of monkeypox reported has declined 80 per cent from the peak in August, although there was a small rise in new cases last week.
The drop in Canadian infections, which began circulating in May, is due to the “effectiveness of the Canadian public health approach to monkeypox,” said PHAC spokesperson Anna Maddison.
“Efforts contributing to the plateau include provincial and territorial immunization campaigns and the effectiveness of public health measure guidance in encouraging behaviour changes that reduce transmission,” she said.
“The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with international, provincial and territorial health partners to gather information on this evolving outbreak, assess the possible risk of exposure of the monkeypox virus in Canada and strengthen the global response to the current monkeypox outbreak.”
As of Nov. 4, the total number of monkeypox cases reported in Canada to date was 1,444, PHAC data shows. The last case that was reported to officials was on Oct. 20. Forty-two people have required hospitalization to date, and no monkeypox deaths have been reported in Canada.
Canadian monkeypox cases have slowed since the onset of the virus in May. On Aug. 31, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus singled out Canada during a media update for its handling of monkeypox. At the time, it was “encouraging to see” a “sustained downward trend” of monkeypox infections, he said.
Around that time, PHAC said in its Aug. 26 report Canada had logged 1,228 monkeypox cases to date. Up until that date, Canada had seen 338 new monkeypox cases from the first reporting period for the month on Aug. 3.
Last month, Ontario said it was considering declaring the province’s monkeypox outbreak over. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore told The Canadian Press there weren’t any significant increases in the past few weeks. In September he said the number of active cases in Ontario peaked in mid-July.
In Montreal, which was once the epicentre for Canada’s outbreak, monkeypox has almost been eradicated, doctors in the city told The Canadian Press. Doctors and members of the city’s LGBTQ2 community credit the quick launch of a vaccination campaign and collaboration between public health officials and community organizations for the success in controlling the disease.
Maddison told Global News more than 100,000 doses of the Imvamune monkeypox vaccine have been administered in Canada as of Oct. 30.
“Public health partners across the country are collaborating and coordinating closely in light of the arrival of monkeypox in Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health have met to discuss this evolving investigation, and actions for identifying, treating and preventing further illnesses in Canada,” she said.
“As new information becomes available, we will continue to work closely with community-based organizations to ensure Canadians remain up-to-date on actions they can take to prevent illnesses.”
Monkeypox has been endemic in parts of Africa for decades and experts suspect the outbreaks in Europe and North America this year were triggered after the disease started spreading through sexual contact at two raves in Spain and Belgium.
It typically requires skin-to-skin or skin-to-mouth contact with an infected patient’s lesions to spread. People can also become infected through contact with the clothing or bedsheets of someone who has monkeypox lesions.
The majority of the cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, but officials have said it can spread in any population. Officials around the world have been working with vulnerable populations, and have been offering vaccination to them.
On Thursday, the WHO said there were 79,483 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported in 110 member states to date, and 49 people have died from the virus.
— with files from The Canadian Press