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WHO Declares Monkeypox A Global Health Emergency After Surge In Cases

WHO Declares Monkeypox A Global Health Emergency After Surge In Cases

The UN health agency said the expanding outbreak is an 'extraordinary event'

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is now a global emergency.

The UN health agency said the expanding outbreak is an 'extraordinary event', amid concerns that it could spill over into more countries, in turn requiring a coordinated global response.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said there was a 'clear risk of further international spread'.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"In short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations," he said.

Dr Tedros explained how, under the International Health Regulations, he is required to consider 'five elements in deciding whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern'.

First, he said, was the 'information provided by countries', which shows the monkeypox virus has 'spread rapidly to many countries that have not seen it before'.

Man with blisters on his hands from monkeypox.

"Second, the three criteria for declaring a public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations, which have been met," Dr Tedros continued, saying a third concern was 'the advice of the Emergency Committee, which has not reached consensus'.

Fourth are 'scientific principles, evidence and other relevant information', which Dr Tedros said are currently 'insufficient and leave us with many unknowns', while a fifth element was the risk to human health, international spread and the potential for interference with international traffic.

"For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern," Dr Tedros said, adding that the WHO's assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is 'moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high'.

Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus, which can spread from animals to humans, and between people.

On the WHO website, the health agency warns that while symptoms can 'go away on their own in a few weeks', in some people, an infection can lead to medical complications and even death.

"Newborn babies, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox," it said.

The WHO previously declared emergencies for public health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, the Zika virus in Latin America in 2016 and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.

The emergency declaration serves mostly as a plea to draw further global resources and attention to an outbreak.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: World News, Health