Kabul: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries an “emergency of international concern”.
Governments are advised to raise awareness among doctors and hospitals, take protective measures in suspected cases and educate members of the population on how to protect themselves from infection.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision to issue the declaration despite a lack of consensus among experts serving on the UN health agency’s emergency committee. It was the first time the chief of the UN health agency has taken such an action.
“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,” Tedros said on Saturday.
Tedros said there are now more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths.
WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr Michael Ryan, said the director-general made the decision to put monkeypox in that category to ensure the gobal community takes the current outbreak seriously.
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Monkeypox has been established in parts of Central and West Africa for decades, but it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
To date, monkeypox deaths have only been reported in Africa, where a more dangerous version of the virus is spreading, mainly in Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo.