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Monkeypox is spreading around the world. What is the disease and how dangerous is it?

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Health authorities in Europe, the U.S. and Australia are investigating a recent outbreak of monkeypox cases, a rare viral disease typically confined to Africa.

Germany on Friday reported its first case of the virus, becoming the latest European country to identify an outbreak alongside the U.K., Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Sweden.

The U.S. and Australia this week also confirmed their first cases, as experts attempt to determine the root cause of the recent spike.

While some cases have been linked to travel from Africa, more recent infections are thought to have spread in the community, raising the risks of a wider outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and infection and the U.K.’s Health Security Agency said they are investigating a range of cases including those among individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men, and urged gay and bisexual men in particular to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions.

In the U.K. alone, cases have doubled since the first was identified on May 7. The country now has 20 confirmed cases of monkeypox, though there are concerns there may be many more undetected.

Individuals exhibiting symptoms of the virus — which include rashes and fever — are being urged to seek medical advice, contacting any clinic before visiting.

“These latest cases, together with reports of cases in countries across Europe, confirms our initial concerns that there could be spread of monkeypox within our communities,” Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the UKHSA, said Wednesday.

What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe.

Generally occurring in remote parts of Central and West Africa, the virus was first detected in captive monkeys in 1958. The first human case was recorded in 1970.

There have since been sporadic cases reported across 10 African countries, including Nigeria, which in 2017 experienced the largest documented outbreak, with 172 suspected and 61 confirmed cases. Three-quarters were among males aged 21 to 40 years old.

Cases outside of Africa have historically been less common, and typically linked to international travel or imported animals. Previous cases have been reported in Israel, the U.K., Singapore and the U.S., which, in 2003, reported 81 cases linked to prairie dogs infected by imported animals.

How do you catch monkeypox?
Monkeypox spreads when someone comes into close contact with another person, animal or material infected with the virus.

The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose and mouth.

Human-to-human transmission most commonly occurs through respiratory droplets, though usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact. Animal-to-human transmission meanwhile may occur via a bite or scratch.

Monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, though it can be passed on during sex.

What are the symptoms?
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headaches, muscle ache, swelling and backpain.

Patients typically develop a rash one to three days after the appearance of fever, often beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

The rash, which can cause severe itching, then goes through several stages before the legions scab and fall off.

The infection typically lasts two to four weeks and usually clears up on its own.

What is the treatment?
There are currently no proven, safe treatments for monkeypox, though most cases are mild.

People suspected of having the virus may be isolated in a negative pressure room — spaces used to isolate patients — and monitored by health-care professionals using personal protective equipment.

Smallpox vaccines have, however, proven largely effective in preventing the spread of the virus. Countries including the U.K. and Spain are now offering the vaccine to those who have been exposed to infections to help reduce symptoms and limit the spread.

How dangerous is it?
Monkeypox cases can occasionally be more severe, with some deaths having been reported in West Africa.

However, health authorities stress that we are not on the brink of a serious outbreak and the risks to the general public remain very low.

“While investigations remain ongoing to determine the source of infection, it is important to emphasize it does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact with an infected symptomatic person,” Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UKHSA, said Saturday.

Health authorities in the U.K., U.S. and Canada urged people who experience new rashes or are concerned about monkeypox to contact their health-care provider.

The UKHSA added that it is reaching out and providing advice to any potential close contacts of cases and health-care worker who may have come into contact with infected patients.

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Organ harvesting: Dino Melaye reacts to arrest of Ekweremadu, wife

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Dino Melaye

Former Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye has expressed his support for ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu amid controversy of alleged organ harvesting.

Melaye said he stands with Ekweremadu because there was no wrongdoing by the Senator.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested in London for allegedly plotting to harvest the kidney of a Nigerian minor.

The UK metropolitan police had arrested and charged Ekweremadu and his wife to court, but the duo pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

“These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge,” Magistrate Lois Sheard said.

Ms Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.

Sharing Ekweremadu’s letter via his Twitter handle, Melaye wrote: “Sen. Ike Ekweremadu notified the British authorities on his trip with the said boy. I stand with Ike.”

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Supreme Court set to rule on controversial Electoral Act on Friday

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday deliver judgment on the legality or otherwise of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 .

The apex Court is set for its verdict in the suit instituted against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice.

A notice for the judgment delivery has just been sighted, indicating that the apex Court will make its position known this morning.

The notice was served on Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for their judgment.

Our correspondent further observed that the suit is the only one for determination today.

Buhari and Abubakar Malami had filed the suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

In the suit filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.

Section 84 (12) has been a subject of intense litigation and political debate in Nigeria since President Buhari signed the amended Electoral Act 2022 into law in February this year.

Shortly after signing it into law, Buhari had asked the parliament to delete the controversial clause in the Electoral Act, but the National Assembly declined the president’s request.

According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot. These are the biggest decliners

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot
The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom, Vienna's cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world.

After two years, Vienna has overtaken Auckland as the world’s most livable city, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Vienna ranked first in 2018 and 2019, but was overtaken by Auckland, New Zealand, during the pandemic and slipped to 12th place in 2021, according to the Global Liveability Index 2022.

The EIU said that Auckland’s position on the index dipped to the 34th place this year because of higher Covid-19 infection rates and strict border controls in 2021. Although lockdowns ended in New Zealand in December, well-vaccinated cities in Europe and Canada had begun easing restrictions earlier.

However, it’s unlikely that Auckland would’ve clinched the top position in this year’s ranking even without a pandemic, according to the EIU.

“Other cities falling was why Auckland was top last time. Without Covid, it would likely be top 10, but not number one,” said Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the research and advisory firm.

Five other European cities — Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt and Amsterdam — also made the top ten. Canada’s Calgary and Vancouver took the third and fifth spots respectively. Japan’s Osaka and Australia’s Melbourne shared 10th place — the only two “Asian” cities that made it to the top 10.

The 172 cities that were included in the rating were assessed on these categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Biggest decliners
Cities in New Zealand and Australia were the biggest fallers in the EIU’s livability ranking.

New Zealand’s capital Wellington dived by 46 places, while Australia’s Adelaide and Perth lost their 2021 positions in the top 10. They are now in the 30th and 32nd place respectively.

Australian and New Zealand cities snagged six of the top 10 spots last year, but were “much, much lower down” on this year’s list as their partial reopening coincided with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant, Baptist told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

But the EIU is optimistic that these cities would bounce back.

“We can expect to see Australian and New Zealand cities moving up the rankings next year, when we do the next round of the survey. And this will be because they will have relaxed more of their Covid restrictions,” said Baptist.

Other cities in the region saw their rankings slip as well.

Singapore fell three spots to 37th place this year, while Hong Kong dropped to 62nd place from 49th last year.

“This is a long term change, it’s not just about Covid. That is part of it. But Hong Kong’s loss of connectivity is likely to be permanent,” said Baptist, citing the decline of cultural and political freedom in the city.

Russian cities plunged
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Moscow’s livability ranking fall by 15 places, while St. Petersburg dipped by 13 spots, the EIU reported.

“Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country,” the report said.

The war on Ukraine also affected the rankings of other Eastern European cities that have been facing political standoffs security threats, food and energy insecurities, and rising inflation, EIU said.

For example, Poland’s Warsaw and Hungary’s Budapest saw their stability scores slip as a result of rising diplomatic tensions, the EIU added.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was also excluded from this year’s report, and 33 new cities — 11 of them in China — were added.

The top 10
These are the world’s most livable cities and their scores, according to The Global Liveability Index 2022:

  1. Vienna, Austria (99.1)
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark (98.0)
  3. TIE — Zurich, Switzerland (96.3)
  4. TIE — Calgary, Canada (96.3)
  5. Vancouver, Canada (96.1)
  6. Geneva, Switzerland (95.9)
  7. Frankfurt, Germany (95.7)
  8. Toronto, Canada (95.4)
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (95.3)
  10. TIE — Osaka, Japan (95.1)
  11. TIE — Melbourne, Australia (95.1)

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