GPs will be under legal obligation to report all cases of monkeypox to local authorities from tomorrow.
Parliament laid legislation today which will make monkeypox a notifiable infectious disease under the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010.
The Government said this means ‘all doctors in England are required to notify their local council or local Health Protection Team (HPT) if they suspect a patient has monkeypox’.
‘Laboratories must also notify the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) if the monkeypox virus is identified in a laboratory sample.’
Wendi Shepherd, monkeypox incident director at UKHSA, said: ‘Rapid diagnosis and reporting is the key to interrupting transmission and containing any further spread of monkeypox. This new legislation will support us and our health partners to swiftly identify, treat and control the disease.
‘It also supports us with the swift collection and analysis of data which enables us to detect possible outbreaks of the disease and trace close contacts rapidly, whilst offering vaccinations where appropriate to limit onward transmission.’
UKHSA also urged the NHS to prioritise suspected cases of monkeypox.
‘It is important anyone concerned they may have symptoms of monkeypox feels able to access healthcare and clinical advice immediately,’ the announcement said.
UKHSA said it has detected a total of 302 cases of monkeypox in the UK as of 5 June. This includes 287 confirmed cases in England, 10 in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland and three in Wales.
UKHSA stressed that ‘anyone can get monkeypox, particularly if you have had close contact, including sexual contact, with an individual with symptoms’.
People who are gay or bisexual and men who have sex with men ‘remain disproportionately affected’, it added.
Last month, the Government advised that GP contacts of monkeypox cases should receive the smallpox vaccine even if they wore PPE.