Belgium introduces a 21-day quarantine for all cases of monkeypox

A closeup of the virus under a microscope and a scientist looking through a microscope

The virus has now been found in 10 countries outside West and Central Africa (Image: Getty/iStockphoto)

Belgium was the first country to introduce mandatory quarantine for people infected with monkeypox.

Those with symptoms will need to isolate themselves until their sores have healed, which is expected to take around three weeks.

The Belgian Risk Assessment Group (RAG) and health authorities said those infected must be isolated for 21 days.

They said anyone with symptoms should seek medical advice.

The country saw an outbreak related to a gay fetish festival called Darklands, where three attendees tested positive.

Organizers said: “There is reason to believe that the virus was brought to the festival by visitors from abroad, following recent cases in other countries.”

They circulated government warning information that said those infected would have to self-isolate for three weeks and avoid all physical sexual contact.

Concerns have grown over the past week about the spread of monkeypox, a viral disease that is usually rare and mainly affects people who have recently traveled to Africa.

Composite image of monkeypox virus with people feet in bed sheets

People who have sex with multiple partners have been warned to be extra careful (Picture: Getty)

It has now been found in ten countries outside of central and west Africa, including the UK, where there have been 20 confirmed cases.

dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to the UKHSA, said updated figures for the weekend would be released on Monday as she warned of more cases “daily”.

Monkeypox has an incubation period of five to 21 days, so people have been warned to remain vigilant for three weeks after possible exposure.

dr Hopkins said, “Community transmission is largely concentrated in urban areas and we see it predominantly in individuals who self-identify as gay or bisexual, or in other men who have sex with men.”

When asked why it’s found in this demographic, she said: “It’s because of the frequent close contacts they may have.

“We would recommend anyone who switches sex partners regularly or who is in close contact with people they don’t know to call in if they develop a rash.”

The World Health Organization says people can get the disease from close contact with skin lesions on infected people, by breathing in respiratory droplets, or by touching a contaminated object (such as a towel or bedding).

They said transmission via airway particles through droplets “usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, putting health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk.”

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Justin Scacco

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