Patients with monkeypox are advised to sleep and eat alone and use a separate bathroom

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Monkeypox patients are advised to avoid contact with other people in their homes to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Experts say household members are most at risk of becoming infected with a case in their home.

Now the government has issued new guidelines to help people look after themselves and protect others. They follow the first recommendations issued on May 30.

It says Monkeypox infection is mainly spread between people through direct, skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact. The infection can also be spread via contaminated objects such as linens and upholstery.

The guidelines advise that, where possible, cases should be encouraged to sleep and eat in a separate room and to use a bathroom separate from their household if possible. Good hygiene measures, to be followed at all times, have also been put in place.

Where use of a separate room is not possible, cases should avoid physical contact and keep at least 3 paces (1 meter) away from all household members. It is especially important that they avoid close contact with young children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people, as they may be at greater risk of serious illness.

Other tips include keeping laundry separate from other members of the household and avoiding close contact with pets. The full advice can be viewed at GOV.UK.

The guidance also advises on the criteria that cases must meet before they can end their isolation.

Individuals must:

  • not having had a high temperature for at least 72 hours
  • ensure that all lesions anywhere on the body are crusted over – additionally, any crusts on the face, arms and hands should have fallen off, with a new layer of skin forming underneath
  • have had no new lesion formation in the previous 48 hours
  • have no lesions in the mouth

The cases will have received the contact details of the medical team treating them and they will be in regular contact. They should call this team if they have any concerns – and ending isolation should be done on the advice of this team.

At the end of self-isolation, individuals should keep any remaining lesions (that are not on the face, arms, or hands) covered with clothing. They should avoid close contact with young children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people until the scabs from all their lesions have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.

The self-isolation advice also recognizes that staying home for an extended period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some, particularly if they don’t have much space or access to a garden. People who are self-isolating are advised to keep in touch with family and friends by phone or social media and seek help if they need it, for example by accessing the Every mind matters website.

Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s chief medical adviser, said: “Self-isolation is an important measure to protect others from monkeypox. Staying home and doing all we can to avoid contact close contact with other people in the household will prevent the spread of this virus.

“We know that self-isolation is not easy for some, so it’s important that people seek help if needed.”

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