The monkeypox outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization has decided – although the director general remains “deeply concerned”.
An emergency summit of top doctors from the WHO was convened to discuss the current outbreak, and did not designate it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said: “I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, this is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I and the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely”.
The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee did lay out concerns and highlight steps for the international community to take.
They noted that since early May, 3,000 cases have been detected across 50 countries which do not normally see monkeypox cases.
Of these, there has been one death reported in an immuno-compromised person.
In areas where it is endemic, there have been 1,500 cases this year and 70 deaths.
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Dr Tedros said: “As the committee pointed out, monkeypox has been circulating in a number of African countries for decades and has been neglected in terms of research, attention and funding.
“This must change – not just for monkeypox but for other neglected diseases in low-income countries as the world is reminded yet again that health is an interconnected proposition.”
According to the NHS, you can catch monkeypox if you are bitten by an infected animal or if you touch its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs.
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Catching it from an infected person is very uncommon, but transmission is possible through close physical contact including sexual intercourse, touching clothing, bedding, towels or other items used by someone with the rash.
Contact with their blisters or scabs or exposure to their coughs or sneezes could also put you at risk.
What is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern?
According to the WHO, a PHEIC is “an extraordinary event, which constitutes a public health risk to other states through international transmission, and which potentially requires a coordinated international response”.
Previous PHEIC declarations include swine flu, polio, Zika, COVID and various Ebola outbreaks.
COVID was designated a PHEIC on 31 January 2020.
A statement said: “The committee advised that the event should be closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks, once more information about the current unknowns becomes available, to determine if significant changes have occurred that may warrant a reconsideration of their advice.”
Image: Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the response to this outbreak should be a catalyst for worldwide solutions
It added that some events should lead to a reassessment of the situation.
This includes an increase rate of growth of cases in the next three weeks, more cases among sex workers, increased spread to additional countries and an increase in serious cases and mortality.
Source : Sky News