Keen Australian travellers have flocked at the chance to swap the winter chill for summer sun in a European holiday.
But those enjoying their enviable getaway could bring back an unwanted guest when they return home as monkeypox continues to spread abroad.
The federal government this week announced new vaccines to tackle the disease were on the way, with 22,000 doses to hit Aussie shores this week before a further 100,000 doses arrive later this year and another 350,000 in early 2023.
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Currently, there are at least 53 cases of the disease nationwide and this does not include infections diagnosed while abroad.
But the situation looks much different overseas, with more than 12,000 cases reported across Europe and two deaths in Spain.
“We’re certainly running well behind the level of case reporting you see in the US, Canada, Europe and UK,” Health Minister Mark Butler said on Thursday.
However, health authorities are on alert and recently designated monkeypox to be a “communicable disease of national significance”.
The government has now ruled out introducing travel restrictions to stop Aussie travellers bringing the disease back with them.
“The Australian Government is closely monitoring the outbreak of monkeypox,” a Health Department spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au.
“In declaring monkeypox a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’, WHO Director-General Tedros stated ‘there is a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment’.
“Based on the current situation, Australia is not considering any travel restrictions or border closures in response to monkeypox.”
The Health Department is urging Aussie travellers visiting or returning from countries where cases have been identified to be aware of the signs of infection and seek medical help if they think they may have been exposed to the virus.
People are asked to get medical help if they develop monkeypox symptoms – which include a distinctive rash or lesions, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and joint pain – after returning from overseas or being in contact with a case in Australia or overseas.
Current health advice to prevent infection includes:
- If infected, isolate from others until the sores fully clear and wear a face mask when around others if unable to isolate alone
- Avoid physical contact with the infected person, including any objects such as linen or towels that they may have touched
- Careful hand and respiratory hygiene for all in the household.
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