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WHO decides not to declare global health emergency over monkeypox

Updated:2022-07-26 15:53:42

Test tubes labeled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this picture taken on May 22, 2022. Photo by Reuters

The World Health Organization on Saturday decided not to declare that the outbreak of monkeypox constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

WHO said although there were some differing views within the committee, it ultimately agreed by consensus that, at this stage, the outbreak is not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The "global emergency" label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak following advice from a meeting of international experts.

Despite the declaration, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

"I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak. This is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely," Tedros said in a statement.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death have been reported in the last six weeks in 48 countries where it does not usually spread, according to the WHO.

Almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths have also been reported in central Africa, where the disease is more common, so far this year, primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.

Vaccines and treatments are available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.