The number of new monkeypox cases across the world increased by 48 per cent from July 18-24, with 73 per cent sexually transmitted, according to a top health official, citing the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said it had been found that 98 per cent of those infected were men who have sex with men (MSM).

"I would like to emphasise that the nature of monkeypox infection is not as fast as that of Covid-19. It is caused by direct person-to-person contact with someone infected with monkeypox, or contact with monkeypox blisters or scabs.

"This means people need to avoid direct contact with the infected or people suspected of being infected,” she said on July 28.

Last week, the WHO declared that the monkeypox outbreak represented "a public health emergency of international concern". The announcement is due to findings of the incidence of monkeypox having been on the rise recently.

As of July 22, 75 countries in six regions had reported cases of monkeypox.

Vandine also confirmed that the 27-year-old Nigerian monkeypox patient being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh was recovering.

Vandine called on people to be vigilant, especially those who have had direct contact with the Nigerian patient.

"We found the Nigerian patient and have already found five people in Phnom Penh who have had direct contact with him. But we do not know if he has told us everything about those he has been in contact with, particularly sexual partners, as it is generally not easy to tell others about this.

"Therefore, those known to have had direct contact with him must isolate themselves and monitor their health,” she urged.

Cambodia found the monkeypox patient – the Kingdom's first imported case – on the night of July 23, while the five people have been isolated for up to 21 days to monitor their health.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread of monkeypox around the world was the reason for declaring a public health emergency of international concern.

He tweeted that the outbreak of monkeypox was concentrated among MSM, especially those with multiple sexual partners.

It was therefore essential, he cautioned, that all countries work closely with MSM communities to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities.

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, severe headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and blisters, rashes on the face, the palms of the hand, the soles of the feet, mouth, genitals and eyes, with the rash lasting several weeks.