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POLITICS

Italy’s PM says he’s ‘well’ after blood vessel surgery

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday he was feeling well following emergency surgery on a blocked blood vessel.

Italy's PM says he's 'well' after blood vessel surgery
Paolo Gentiloni speaking at a press conference in Rome last month. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The surgery was successful and Gentiloni, 62, was likely to remain in hospital for a few days, aides said when announcing the news earlier in the day.

“Thanks for the affection and well-wishes. Doctors and medical staff were excellent. I'm well. Soon I'll go back to work,” Gentiloni said on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

The premier was taken to hospital after complaining of discomfort on his return to Rome on Tuesday from an official visit to Paris, with doctors deciding he should undergo an angioplasty.

This is a procedure to widen a blocked or narrowed blood vessel, usually an artery.

“We exchanged messages this morning and I am sure that he will be back at work very soon,” junior minister Benedetto Della Vedova had told reporters before the premier's tweet.

Gentiloni has been conducting a tour of European capitals following his appointment last month to replace Matteo Renzi, who resigned following a crushing referendum defeat.

He was in Paris on Tuesday to meet French President Francois Hollande and had been due to fly to London on Thursday to meet his counterpart Theresa May, a trip that has now been postponed.

However, Gentiloni is still due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Rome on Friday.

With Hollande, the Italian premier discussed celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary in March of the Treaty of Rome, the accord that established what would eventually become the European Union.

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HEALTH

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”

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