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MONKEYPOX

Spain to stock up on vaccines as monkeypox cases rise to 84

Spain's Health Ministry on Thursday confirmed 25 new cases of monkeypox in the country over the previous 24 hours, adding it would obtain vaccines and antiviral drugs to stem its spread through a joint EU procurement deal.

Spain to stock up on vaccines as monkeypox cases rise to 84
Monkeypox vaccines for the general population have been ruled out by Spanish authorities, with the focus primarily on infected people and close contacts. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

A total of 84 people have tested positive for the illness via PCR test in Spain over the course of May, of whom at least 20 were confirmed to have it through genome sequencing, Health Minister Carolina Darias said.

That’s 25 more than the 59 total cases announced on Wednesday May 25th, and 33 more than on Tuesday.

There are also 73 suspected cases of monkeypox reported across Spain, while on Wednesday there were 171.

In neighbouring Portugal, the tally has now reached 58 confirmed infections.

Spain intends to acquire Imvanex smallpox vaccines and Tecovirimat antivirals — usually used to treat the same disease — through an EU joint procurement scheme to try to stall the spread of monkeypox, Darias said.

The European Union’s Health Emergency Response Authority “is going to make the smallpox vaccine available to Member States”, she said, adding the doses would be “distributed in an equitable manner between member states”.

Spanish authorities have so far said the newly acquired vaccines are meant for people infected with monkeypox and their close contacts, not the general population.

There is no specific treatment but vaccination against smallpox has been found to be about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.

The World Health Organisation has said that, as of May 22, more than 250 confirmed and suspected cases had been officially reported to the UN health agency from 16 countries outside endemic nations in west and central Africa.

Monkeypox, which is not usually fatal, can cause a fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

READ MORE: How Spain wants to contain the monkeypox virus

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HEALTH

UV Index: Where in Spain you have to take extra care with sun exposure

We all know that too much sun can cause health problems, but there are particular places in Spain where the UV Index is higher than others and you need to be particularly careful. Read on to find out where.

UV Index: Where in Spain you have to take extra care with sun exposure

Spaniards and indeed foreign residents in Spain spend a lot of time in the sun, particularly at the beach in summer, and sunbathing is a popular pastime.

While it’s obviously not a good idea to be sunbathing during the hottest part of the day anywhere in Spain, there are some places that are worse than others.

When the sun shines, it emits radiation and one of the most dangerous is ultraviolet radiation. While ultraviolet radiation is not harmful in low doses, it can cause skin damage after long and intense exposure.

The UV Index measures the amount of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth’s surface and alerts people to the risk that the sun poses to our health on a daily basis.

The Canary Islands have the highest UV Index out of all the regions in Spain, meaning that if you live there or are thinking of going on holiday there, you should take extra precautions in the sun.

A UV Index level of 8 to 10, as well as anything above 10 is considered to be very high and extremely dangerous.

The Canary Islands consistently record UV Index levels 2 or 3 points above the rest of Spain and in some parts of the day up to four points above.

UV Index levels change throughout the day and reach their highest from about 1pm – 4pm, when you have to take extra care.

For example, on Friday August 12th the UV Index for the hottest part of the day in most of mainland Spain hovers around 7-9, whereas in the Canary Islands it reaches 11-13.

According to Canarian dermatologist Dr. Paula Aguayo, one in five canaries could be at risk from skin cancer throughout their lives due to inadequate sun protection.  

She recommends that people in the Canary Islands avoid the sun between midday and 6pm, use broad-spectrum sunscreens which protect against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation and a sunscreen with a factor not lower than 30. “ In fact, it is preferable to use factor 50,” she says.

The regions in Spain that typically have the least amount of UV are located along the northern coast, places such as Galicia, Cantabria, Asturias and the Basque Country.

When the UV Index is anywhere from 6 upwards, experts recommend:

  • Avoiding direct sun exposure during the hottest part of the day and always keeping to the shade.
  • Wearing sunglasses with adequate UV protection as well as a hat.
  • Covering your skin and applying sunscreen with a high factor to the parts that are exposed. It is recommended to put cream on in the house before you go out into the sun and to always reapply it after swimming, even if it’s a waterproof sunscreen.
  • Drinking lots of water – In the sun and heat, the skin becomes dehydrated and this aggravates skin aging caused by ultraviolet rays.

Be sun safe even on cloudy days

The UV Index is usually lower on cloudy days, but even so, solar radiation can penetrate through the clouds.  According to scientists, even if the sky is completely covered, 40 percent of the sun’s radiation can still reach earth, so even if it doesn’t feel so hot, you still need to remember your sun protection.

Take extra care in the mountains  

Those heading to the mountains instead of the coast this summer should take extra care from the sun as the UV Index can reach its highest in places of high altitude and you risk being exposed to more radiation.

Mount Teide on the Canary Island of Tenerife and the highest mountain in Spain is one of the worst places for getting sunburnt. Up here, in summer there are around 12 hours of sun a day.

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