WHO issues emergency warning over monkeypox outbreak

July 25, 2022
WHO issues emergency warning over monkeypox outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) – representing WHO’s highest level of alert which calls for international response.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, prompted into speaking out over concerns about escalating case rates and a short supply of vaccines and treatments, revealed the monkeypox outbreak was concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners. The virus spreads via close contact and tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions.

So far this year, there have been over 16,000 cases of monkeypox in more than 75 countries, and five deaths in Africa where monkeypox is endemic.

Tedros said the outbreak was moderate globally, except in the Europe, where the WHO has deemed the risk as high.

International health experts have applauded the WHO’s decision to issue the PHEIC declaration, which until now had only been applied to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio.

Raj Panjabi, Director of the White House Pandemic Preparedness office, said a “coordinated, international response [was] essential” to stop the spread of the viral disease and protect communities at the greatest risk of contracting it.

“We cannot afford to keep waiting for diseases to escalate before we intervene,” said Josie Golding, Head of Epidemics and Epidemiology at the London-based Wellcome Trust.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO and national governments have been facing intense pressure from scientists and public health experts to take more action on monkeypox.

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