China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has made a significant move in the fight against monkeypox infections. Starting from September 20th, monkeypox will be reclassified as a Class B infectious disease in China. This reclassification will enable the implementation of stricter prevention and control measures to combat the disease effectively. The aim is to address the recent outbreaks and hidden transmission of monkeypox, which has spread globally from its original confinement in Central and West Africa. Experts support this reclassification as a crucial step in the battle against the disease.
Monkeypox, a zoonotic disease, has now become a sexually transmitted disease predominantly among a sub-group in the gay community. The disease has a fatality rate of approximately 0.1 percent, but it can be more severe and complicated in cases where individuals have both monkeypox and HIV. The transmission of monkeypox among gay men has been attributed to irresponsible behavior and the lack of safe sex practices. This highlights the need for targeted interventions and education within specific communities.
The decision to reclassify monkeypox as a Class B infectious disease was prompted by China’s first imported case in September 2022, followed by local outbreaks in June 2023. Over 20 provincial-level regions in China have reported monkeypox cases, leading to new outbreaks and hidden transmission. By reclassifying the disease, Chinese authorities can establish a clear legal basis for its management and empower prevention and control departments to enforce compliance with the law.
While the reclassification is a significant step, challenges remain in combating monkeypox among gay male populations. Recent data shows that the majority of new monkeypox cases in China are among gay men. Close contact during sexual activities is believed to facilitate the transmission of the virus within this sub-group. However, most cases exhibit mild symptoms such as fever, rash, and lymphadenopathy, with no severe or fatal cases reported so far.
To address the spread of monkeypox, the Chinese government has adopted a comprehensive approach to prevention and control. This approach includes effective monitoring of medical institutions, key groups, and international arrivals. Local governments will develop specific regulations tailored to their regions to further strengthen prevention and control efforts. While the risk of contracting monkeypox for ordinary residents remains relatively low, maintaining awareness and avoiding contact with symptomatic individuals is still important.
In conclusion, China’s reclassification of monkeypox as a Class B infectious disease signifies a crucial step in the prevention and control of the disease. Stricter measures will be implemented to combat the recent outbreaks and hidden transmission. However, the transmission of monkeypox among gay men highlights the need for targeted interventions and education within specific communities. Collaboration between public health authorities, medical institutions, and affected communities will be essential in containing and eliminating monkeypox in China.