BEIJING, Sept 15 (Reuters) – China plans to manage monkeypox in the same way it handles infectious diseases such as COVID-19 starting from Sept. 20, health authorities said on Friday, after detecting around 500 cases of the viral infection last month.
Monkeypox will be managed under Category B protocols, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement.
Under this category, China could take emergency measures such as restricting gatherings, suspending work and school or sealing off areas when there is an outbreak of a disease.
Category B infectious diseases currently include COVID-19, AIDS and SARS.
“Over 20 provinces have reported monkeypox cases in China since the first imported case in September 2022 and the beginning of locally transmitted cases in June 2023, triggering continued outbreaks and ‘hidden’ transmissions,” the NHC said.
China puts infectious diseases into three classes, with the top level Category A giving authorities the power to quarantine patients and their close contacts.
China downgraded the management of COVID-19 to Category B from Category A at the end of 2022 after almost three years of strict restrictions that included locking down entire cities.
In August, China reported 501 new monkeypox infections, with no severe cases or deaths, the Chinese Center For Disease Control and Prevention said on Sept.8.
First identified in monkeys, the virus is transmitted chiefly through close contact with an infected person.
In May, the World Health Organization declared that monkeypox was no longer a global public health emergency.