President Biden on Monday said he does not expect the United States to impose quarantine requirements for individuals infected by or exposed to monkeypox, but he urged Americans to “be careful” as the virus circulates more widely.
Biden was asked during a press conference in Tokyo about other countries, namely Belgium, that have required those infected with monkeypox to quarantine for 21 days, and whether Americans should expect something similar.
“No, I don’t think so,” Biden said.
The president a day earlier told reporters “everybody should be concerned” about the virus, which was first detected in the United States last week. But on Monday, he pointed to the effectiveness of smallpox vaccines to prevent serious cases of monkeypox and previous outbreaks to argue there is no need for a stronger reaction.
“I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with COVID-19, and the smallpox vaccine works for it. But, I think people should be careful,” Biden said.
Asked if the government has enough smallpox vaccine stockpiled, Biden said he believes there is “enough to deal with the likelihood of the problem.”
Monkeypox is a rare virus that is typically detected in Africa, but recent confirmed cases in the U.S., Europe and Canada have perplexed scientists and caused concern. The virus is in the same family as smallpox, but is less deadly.
Massachusetts public health officials confirmed a case of monkeypox in a person who had recently traveled to Canada. In total, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it is tracking 80 confirmed cases and 50 possible cases across 11 countries.
Monkeypox spreads in a different way than COVID-19, the WHO noted, specifically through close contact with an infected person or animal. Symptoms of the virus include rashes, fever and swollen lymph nodes.