THE number of people with a confirmed monkeypox infection has seen its biggest spike since the virus was first found in the UK.
A total of 71 more infections have been recorded, health officials say, bringing the total number to 179.
The first case in Britain was recorded on May 7, but numbers have since jumped, with hundreds of cases around the world.
Four of the UK's confirmed cases are in Scotland, two are in Northern Ireland, one is in Wales and the rest are in England.
The large jump in cases is due to no new figures being reported over the weekend.
The UK's Health Security Agency said: "The risk to the UK population remains low, but we are asking people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.
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"Although this advice applies to everyone, the majority of the cases identified to date have been among men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men.
"We are asking these people in particular to be aware of the symptoms, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner.
"You should call NHS 111 or a sexual health centre immediately if you have a rash with blisters and either you have been in close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox in the past three weeks, you have been to west or central Africa in the past three weeks, or you are a man who has sex with men."
Health chiefs have advised anyone with monkeypox not to have sex.
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They should wait until their lesions have healed and scabs have dried off.
That's because the highest risk of transmission of the virus is through direct physical contact, meaning sex could help spread it more easily.
The World Health Organisation has warned that the current number of cases could just be the “peak of the iceberg”.
WHO's pandemic preparedness and prevention chief Sylvie Briand said: "We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities.
“We are still at the very, very beginning of this event. We know that we will have more cases in the coming days."
However, the expert added it is "not a disease the general public should be worried about".
"It is not Covid or other diseases that spread fast."
In recent weeks, the virus has been identified in several countries across Britain and the west, including Italy, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the United States.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and chills.
Top Brit medic Dr Susan Hopkins said: "We anticipated that further cases would be detected through our active case finding with NHS services and heightened vigilance among healthcare professionals.
We are still at the very, very beginning of this event. We know that we will have more cases in the coming days
“We expect this increase to continue in the coming days and for more cases to be identified in the wider community.
“Alongside this we are receiving reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally.
"We continue to rapidly investigate the source of these infections and raise awareness among healthcare professionals.
“We are contacting any identified close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice."
The virus can be significantly more harmful in young children.
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Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, says the medical community is bracing for more cases as the virus spreads.
"It could be really significant numbers over the next two or three weeks," she said.
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