With Montreal the “epicentre” of the monkeypox outbreak in Canada and the case count continuing to grow, the city is shifting its approach to contain the spread of the rare disease.
Montreal public health said Tuesday there are now 132 confirmed cases of the virus in Quebec, including 126 in Montreal.
Montreal public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin provided an update to the media Tuesday afternoon alongside Quebec’s interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau, who said the progression in Quebec has been “slow” but every few days more cases are being detected.
So far, public health officials have been taking a “ring approach” to vaccination against monkeypox — offering the vaccine to close contacts of people with confirmed infections.
Dr. Drouin said Tuesday that with more people visiting the city for festival season, the city is hoping to limit the spread of the disease, which so far has been detected entirely in men who have sex with other men.
From now on, public health will take a more preventative approach by offering the doses to all people who may be at higher risk as “an additional measure that we’re putting in place to control the outbreak,” Drouin said.
“If you expect to come for festivities or come to Montreal for holidays in a context where sexual relations with other men are possible, it’s really that addition that we’re making today in the context of our [vaccination] campaign.”
In the coming days, people will be able to get vaccinated at a walk-in clinic, or book an appointment by visiting the government booking portal, Clic Santé. Additional vaccination sites are expected to be added in the Montreal area.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to have zero cases, but, of course, we think we can at least manage the current outbreak and minimize the number of new cases,” Drouin said.
So far, three people who tested positive for monkeypox in Quebec have been hospitalized, but they have since been released, according to Boileau. There is currently no one hospitalized with the disease, which has mild symptoms in the vast majority of cases.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that spreads through prolonged, close contact with another person from air droplets, skin-to-skin contact, and bodily fluids.
It comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox and is known to cause lesions to appear on the skin.
The Ministry of Health started offering the smallpox vaccine on May 27. So far, more than 3,000 doses have been given out, Boileau said Tuesday.