Public Health Canada (PHAC) says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.
The latest developments in the spread of the viral disease came in a statement issued on Wednesday evening.
The statement says Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory continues to receive samples from multiple jurisdictions for confirmation testing.
“At this time, cases of monkeypox are being recognized and treated by local health clinics,” the statement said.
“There is ongoing planning with provinces and territories to provide access to vaccines approved in Canada which, if needed, can be used to manage monkeypox in their jurisdiction.”
PHAC says it has given Quebec a small shipment of Imvamune smallpox vaccine from Canada’s National Strategic Emergency Stockpile, with other jurisdictions able to receive some supplies.
In April, Public Services and Canada Procurement tendered to purchase 500,000 doses of Imvamune between 2023 and 2028.
The Primary Health Care Center (PHAC) says there is currently no need for mass immunizations.
“I know Canadians are concerned,” Duclos said in a statement on Tuesday. “The Government of Canada stands ready to respond to emerging public health events and to take necessary precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of infectious diseases.”
The national laboratory received its first samples during the week of May 16, before the first two cases of monkeypox identified in Quebec were announced on May 19. This number rose to five cases the next day.
Since then, other possible cases of monkeypox have emerged in Canada. Toronto public health authorities said Wednesday they have identified two new suspected cases in the city, along with one probable case currently under investigation.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that was first discovered among the colonies of monkeys used in research. Historically, it has also passed from animals to humans, with the first human case recorded in 1970. The virus can spread through close contact with an animal, human, or contaminated substance.
Duclos said the federal government is ready to help provinces and territories develop their own means of testing for the disease in order to monitor it more easily.
“Our surveillance system is working, as is our testing system, although we will continue to improve both, including supporting provinces and territories in building their testing capabilities so that cases can be identified and traced more efficiently,” Duclos’ statement said.
The government will also provide updated guidance on infection prevention, as well as procedures for isolation and case management. Canadians can expect the NACI to provide additional guidance in the coming weeks as well.
In his statement, Duclos emphasized that the emergence of monkeypox is different from COVID-19, which has quickly turned into a global pandemic.
“I want to reiterate to Canadians that this is a different situation than what we saw with the emergence of COVID-19,” Duclos’ statement read. “While the global understanding of monkeypox virus continues to evolve, we have a supply of vaccines, which we will make sure to maintain, and are working alongside our provincial and territorial counterparts to roll out our response plan as quickly as possible.”
In an effort to avoid contracting the disease, Canadians are being advised to physically stay away from those around them, wash their hands frequently, and wear masks in crowded environments.
Files from CTV News and the Canadian Press
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