Belgium reported the country’s first case of monkeypox in a woman on Wednesday, according to the news agency, Belga, citing Sciensano, the Belgian public health institute.
Sciensano published the case at a press conference held by Belgian Health Minister, Frank Vandenbroucke, to announce plans to boost the country’s monkeypox vaccination campaign.
Vandenbroucke said the country’s 12 HIV reference centres are to directly invite people – known by the medical institutions to be at high-risk of contracting monkeypox – to be vaccinated by next week at the latest, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
The public health institute reported 546 cases of monkeypox in Belgium, according to the latest data from August 5, Belga said, with most cases found in males aged between 17 and 71.
The advanced vaccination plans, and the first female diagnosis in Belgium, while not the first in the European Union, come as efforts to contain the monkeypox virus struggle across the bloc.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a German public health body, said monkeypox cases reached over 3,000 in Germany on Wednesday, including infections found in eight women, a four-year-old girl, and two male teenagers.
European countries are also struggling to vaccinate their populations against the virus.
In Belgium, people are travelling to nearby Lille in France to secure vaccines, the Belgian broadcaster rtbf reported.
Belgium has 3,000 vaccine doses available and 30,000 more doses ordered and due for delivery in October, the public health ministry said. Some 300-400 people so far have been vaccinated.
The EU is sharing access to 163,620 vaccine doses across the bloc through a new health mechanism established in the aftermath of Covid-19. Vandenbroucke called for talks to boost vaccine production.
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