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More monkeypox cases will emerge but vaccine work is ongoing, says Humza Yousaf

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HEALTH secretary Humza Yousaf has said he “fully expects” more monkeypox cases will emerge in the coming days but says work is under way to procure vaccines.

Scotland confirmed its first case of the infectious disease on Monday and more than 100 cases have been confirmed in Europe, the Americas, and Australia.

After being quizzed by MSPs at Holyrood today, Yousaf said he was being “regularly briefed” on the outbreak and admitted there would likely be more cases identified in the coming days.

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But he said “robust” infection control and prevention procedures are in place including contact tracing and work was ongoing to obtain more vaccines to protect healthcare staff.

He said: “I’m being regularly briefed by officials and clinicians on the monkeypox outbreak.

“Public Health Scotland is working with UK health security to monitor cases of monkeypox.

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“Work is progressing with NHS boards to investigate the source of this infection. Close contacts are being identified and provided with health information and this may include the offer of a vaccination.

“There are well-established robust infection prevention and control procedures for dealing with infectious diseases and these will be closely followed. The Scottish Government continues to work with Public Health Scotland as we monitor the situation.

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“Conversations with health and care staff are really important. That work is very much underway.

“We have limited vaccinations at the moment although there will be further discussions on further procurement of those vaccines at the meeting I attend later on today.”

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headaches, swellings, aching muscles, and exhaustion, as well as an itchy rash and lesions.

It’s spread through close contact with an infected person or by touching clothing or bedding used by someone with the rash.

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Labour MSP Paul O’Kane also highlighted his concerns around myths being spread about the virus, many of which have been homophobic in nature given that recent UK cases have been more frequent in people who identify as gay or bisexual.

Yousaf said he had been “appalled” by some of the reporting around the virus.

He said: “I have been appalled at some of the disgusting and bigoted reporting that I have seen in relation to monkeypox. It is of course important we work hard to get the public health advice out to those communities more affected by the outbreak but do that in a way that does not stigmatise that community and does not allow this issue to be weaponised for other purposes.

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“We are working with a number of organisations and stakeholders in the LGBT community.”

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