The World Health Organisation cautioned on Friday that some 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside of countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning.
"We don't know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg," Sylvie Briand, WHO's epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief, acknowledged in a briefing to countries on the "unusual" spread of the virus.
Since Britain first reported a confirmed monkeypox case on May 7, nearly 200 cases have been reported to the UN health agency in countries far from the states where the virus is endemic.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has put the number of such cases at 219.
Endemic in a number of west and central African nations, monkeypox cases have suddenly been detected in more than 20 other countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and nearly a dozen EU countries.
The Spanish health ministry said Friday that 98 cases had been confirmed there so far, while Britain currently counts 90 verified infections.
Portugal has meanwhile registered 74 confirmed cases, health authorities said Friday, adding that all the occurrences are in men, mainly aged below 40.
"We are still at the very, very beginning of this event," Briand told member state representatives attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
"We know that we will have more cases in the coming days," she said, but stressed there was no need to "panic".
"This is not a disease the general public should be worried about. It is not Covid or other diseases that spread fast." (AFP)