Monkeypox samples from 24 suspected cases have been deemed negative, according to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).
The samples were taken to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in South Africa to South Africa following an outbreak of the disease in more than 80 countries in the world. Uganda does not have reagents that can test for the disease.
Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute says all the samples that were taken for testing have come back negative.
The pronouncement comes a day after the World Health Organisation said that it was working with national health authorities across Africa to bolster surveillance and laboratory diagnosis to detect cases of Monkey Pox and to deter a silent spread of the virus.
The African continent had reported 1,821 cases of Monkey Pox in 13 countries as of June 28. Of these, 109 are laboratory-confirmed cases in nine countries, accounting for 2 per cent of the more than 4,500 confirmed cases globally. However, there are a large number of suspected cases in the region, 81 per cent of which are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Outside the countries in Africa with a history of human transmission, monkeypox has also been reported in three countries which have not previously had any human cases. These include Ghana, Morocco and South Africa, which have confirmed the disease in two patients with no travel history, suggesting there is a high possibility of local transmission.
“The geographic spread of monkeypox to parts of Africa where cases have never been detected before is a worrying sign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “It is critical that we support national efforts to boost surveillance and laboratory diagnosis, which are the cornerstones of disease control.”
While all African countries have the polymerase chain reaction machines needed to test for monkeypox thanks to reinforced laboratory capacity in the wake of COVID-19, many lack reagents and in some cases training in specimen collection, handling and testing. WHO is working to secure 60,000 tests for Africa, with around 2,000 tests and reagents to be shipped to high-risk countries and 1,000 to those facing lower risk.
But according to Prof Kaleebu, the government has ordered some of its own reagents since the WHO is yet to fulfil its promise of delivering some reagents to the country. “We have made our own orders as we wait for the ones that the WHO promised to give us. But we shall have to wait for around two weeks before they arrive due to procurement delays,” he said.