WHO Set To Decide If Monkeypox Represents Global Health Emergency

More than 30 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease as confirmed cases approach 1,500, most of them in Europe.

By Ashita Singh
Updated: Tue, 14 Jun 2022 08:38 PM IST
Minute Read
WHO Set To Decide If Monkeypox Represents Global Health Emergency

London | Jagran News Desk: The World Health Organization, WHO will convene an emergency committee on Thursday next week to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

That is the highest level of warning issued by the U.N. agency, which currently applies only to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it was time to consider stepping up the response because the virus is behaving unusually, more countries are affected, and there is a need for international co-ordination

"The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual & concerning. For that reason, I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern. We don't want to wait until the situation is out of control," said WHO's emergencies director for Africa, Ibrahima Socé Fall.

There have been 1,600 confirmed and 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox this year and 72 deaths, WHO said, in 39 countries, including the countries where the virus usually spreads.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa but there have been more cases both in those countries and the rest of the world. The virus causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions and spreads through close contact.

Meanwhile, more than 30 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease as confirmed cases approach 1,500, most of them in Europe.

Monkeypox, which spreads through close contact and was first found in monkeys, mostly occurs in the west and central Africa and only very occasionally spreads elsewhere.

It is related to smallpox, but is usually milder, particularly the West African strain of the virus that was identified in a U.S. case, which has a fatality rate of around 1%. Most people fully recover in two to four weeks.

Experts believe the current monkeypox outbreak is being spread through close, intimate skin-on-skin contact with someone who has an active rash. That should make its spread easier to contain once infections are identified.

(With Reuters Inputs)

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