Japan on Monday confirmed its first case of monkeypox, detected in a man in his 30s who had travelled overseas, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike announced.
“It’s a man in his 30s with a history of overseas travel who had returned from Europe. This is the first monkeypox case in Japan,” Koike told reporters.
She said the man had been hospitalised in Tokyo, without giving further details.
The case was reported hours after Japan’s government convened a taskforce meeting to collect information and prepare to test and receive patients at clinics.
On Saturday, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency – the highest alarm it can sound.
Monkeypox has affected more than 16,800 people in 74 countries, according to a tally by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on Jul 22.
A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.
Ninety-five percent of cases have been transmitted through sexual activity, according to a study of 528 people in 16 countries published in the New England Journal of Medicine – the largest research to date.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously expressed concern that stigma and scapegoating could make the outbreak harder to track.
A Danish drugmaker of smallpox vaccines said on Monday the European Commission has approved its jab for use against monkeypox.
Japan’s health ministry panel will discuss on Friday whether the stockpiled smallpox vaccines in the country can be used to treat monkeypox.
Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said in May that the vaccines are “produced and stockpiled in Japan from a counter-terrorism perspective” to prepare the country to respond to possible attacks with a viral agent.