“There is no reason to tie monkeypox to Covid-19 and everything that makes people think of, such as fear of the illness and societal measures to control it,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren told the SvD newspaper in an interview. “There will be no limits or restrictions on how we live due to monkeypox. There are no plans to do that.”
Hallengren said was important to classify the illness as allmänfarlig, or “representing a danger to society”, because that meant that anyone who infected with it was legally obliged to report it to authorities under infection control laws, making it much easier to track the virus and limit its spread.
Monkeypox, apkoppor in Swedish, is a zoonotic virus (a virus spread from animals to humans) which most often occurs in areas of tropical rainforest in Central and West Africa. It is occasionally found in other regions, and cases have recently been discovered in Europe, North America and Australia.
Fredrik Elgh, an epidemiologist at Umeå University, agreed that monkeypox was unlikely to spark lockdowns and recommendations similar to those seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, telling Sweden’s TT newswire that “this is not a new pandemic”.
“The general public do not need to be worried about monkeypox,” he said. “But my belief and hope is that this will not be a pandemic like corona. The most likely scenario is that as long as we contact trace properly, it will ebb out.”
He explained that the two viruses are different types of viruses, meaning that monkeypox cannot adapt as easily as the Covid-19 virus.
“Monkeypox is a DNA virus, while coronavirus is a RNA virus,” he said. “DNA viruses are much more stable, which means that you don’t need to be worried that they will adapt as quickly. It would take a lot and a long time before they adapt to humans.”
Monkeypox is spread via close contact with an animal or human with the monkeypox virus. It can be transmitted via bodily fluids, lesions, respiratory droplets or through contaminated materials, such as bedding.
Recent cases of the virus in Europe are thought to have been spread through sexual activity.
Other illnesses classed as allmänfarlig include salmonella, HIV and chlamydia.