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SYDNEY: Australia said on Thursday the spread of monkeypox was now a “communicable disease incident of national significance” to allow for a more coordinated response, following the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global health emergency.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said in a statement that the National Incident Centre had been activated to enhance coordination across Australia’s states and territories to manage the outbreak.

Kelly said there had been 44 cases of monkeypox in Australia, with most cases in returned international travellers, and around the world this year there had been 20,311 cases in 71 countries that have not historically reported monkeypox cases.

Japan detects first monkeypox case

He said the disease is less harmful and far less transmissible than COVID-19.

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