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Monkeypox: Sadiq Khan ‘deeply concerned’ about London cases as outbreak continues to spread

The London Mayor has urged the government to act decisively to combat the outbreak.

By Emily Maskell

Sadiq Khan on World Aids Day
Sadiq Khan (Image: Twitter/@MayorofLondon)

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Twitter/@MayorofLondon

Sadiq Khan says he’s “deeply concerned” at the rise of monkeypox cases in London and is urging the UK government to act rapidly as the majority of the UK’s cases have been reported in the capital.

On Friday (15 July) it was reported by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that there have now been 1,856 confirmed cases in the UK. 1,778 of these are in England and 1,313 are in London meaning 75 percent of England’s cases are in the capital.

In response to the alarming rise in London cases (and prior to the release of the above figures) Mr. Khan calls on the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, for action to ensure that a coordinated and resourced approach to prevention, testing, and treatment is immediately delivered.

On Twitter, Mr. Khan says of his address to the Health Secretary: “London is currently seeing the highest rate of infection and I’m deeply concerned that reported monkeypox cases have doubled in less than a week.”

In his letter, Mr. Khan opens by addressing the high level of London monkeypox cases before writing: “Even more concerning is the number of reported cases has more than doubled in six days, to over 250 new diagnoses, since the last data report on 7 July.”

“An inadequate response would have implications for public health, and for our National Health Service’s ability to cope with rising demand whilst being significantly underfunded and continuing to meet the challenge of rising COVID infections,” he emphasises.

Mr. Khan shares his concern that Londoners are being left “without clear guidance on how to avoid getting infected,” and that there is a “lack of clarity and support for people seeking testing and clinical pathways to obtain effective care”.

He continues: “I call on the Government to rapidly ensure that an appropriately coordinated and resourced approach to both prevention and testing, assessment and treatment is delivered without delay.”

“I would appreciate reassurance from Government that there will be sufficient vaccines available for those at high risk, particularly gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men in order that we do not miss a crucial opportunity to eliminate the outbreak through a fully funded, targeted, pre-exposure vaccination programme.”

“I’m in regular contact with the OHID, UKHSA, and the NHS who are closely monitoring the situation, and through my regular meetings with public health leaders continue to ensure that everything possible is being done to help and support Londoners,” Mr. Khan notes before adding: “It’s time to step things up.”

If we learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that early action and coordination is vital to get ahead of the curve,” he also writes. 

“The Government must rapidly ensure that there’s a coordinated and resourced approach to tackle the threat faced by monkeypox now,” Mr Khan says in an accompanying tweet.

Mr Khan’s public call for action follows a number of charities – including the Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust, British HIV Association, LGBT Foundation, and more – calling for the government to urgently tackle the UK’s continued monkeypox outbreak.

This collective of charities has said the ongoing vaccine rollout is too slow and uncoordinated as that £51 million is needed “to stop monkeypox becoming endemic in the UK”.

Mr. Khan’s letter notes that “London played an important and successful part in the NHS’s COVID vaccine roll-out” and continued: “I am certain that we can respond once more but it is vital that the resources and coordination is in place to address this latest health threat.”

While messaging continues to note that anyone can contract monkeypox, recent transmission data shows those most impacted by the virus have statistically been gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.

Monkeypox is not defined as a sexually-transmitted infection but can be passed on by close contact during sex.

Anyone with concerns is being advised to contact NHS 111 or a sexual health clinic. People should notify clinics ahead of their visit.

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.