Monkeypox cannot be declared global health emergency yet: WHO

HO said this week it has confirmed more than 3,200 monkeypox infections in about 40 countries that haven’t previously reported the disease. The vast majority of cases are in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men and more than 80 per cent of the cases are in Europe.

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This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Israeli authorities said late Saturday, May 21, 2022, they have detected the country's first case of monkeypox in a man who returned from abroad and were looking into other suspected cases. (Image Credit: AP)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday said that the spread of monkeypox should be closely monitored it also mentioned that it does not warrant being declared a health emergency.

In a statement on Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were “unusual” and acknowledged that monkeypox which is endemic in some African countries has been neglected for years. “While a few members expressed differing views, the committee resolved by consensus to advise the WHO director-general that at this stage the outbreak should be determined to not constitute” a global health emergency, WHO said in a statement.

WHO nevertheless pointed to the “emergency nature” of the outbreak and said controlling its spread requires an “intense” response. The committee said the outbreak should be “closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus convened the emergency committee on Thursday after expressing concern about the epidemic of monkeypox in countries that haven’t previously reported the disease.

“What makes the current outbreak especially concerning is the rapid, continuing spread into new countries and regions and the risk of further, sustained transmission into vulnerable populations including people that are immunocompromised, pregnant women and children,” the WHO chief said.

WHO said this week it has confirmed more than 3,200 monkeypox infections in about 40 countries that haven’t previously reported the disease. The vast majority of cases are in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men and more than 80 per cent of the cases are in Europe.

Monkeypox in Africa mostly affects people who come into contact with infected wild animals, like rodents or primates. There has been about 1,500 reported cases of monkeypox, including 70 deaths, in Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

To date, scientists haven’t found any mutations in the monkeypox virus that suggest it’s more transmissible or lethal, although the number of changes detected show the virus has likely been spreading undetected for years.

(With inputs from AP)

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