WHO: Monkeypox outbreak not an international emergency

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The outbreak of monkeypox in more than 50 countries, including Austria, is not being assessed as an “emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The U.N. agency in Geneva made the announcement Saturday evening after an emergency committee convened deliberations out of concern about the infections.

However, the committee plans to reassess the situation quickly if there is a sharp increase in the number of infections or affected countries, if clustered cases occur among vulnerable groups, or if the virus changes.

“I am deeply concerned about the spread of monkeypox, which has now been detected in more than 50 countries,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. There have been 3,000 cases since the beginning of May, he said. To contain the outbreak, measures such as surveillance, risk communication, contact tracing, isolation, treatment, and vaccination must be strengthened, he said.

WHO followed the recommendation of the Monkeypox Emergency Committee, which, while noting the “emergency nature of the situation,” still found the criteria for an international health emergency – in English, a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) – were not met. Independent experts worldwide pointed out that case numbers in some countries had reached a plateau or were potentially falling.

Unanswered questions about the virus, the routes of infection, and the range of symptoms also need to be addressed to assess the public health risk, they said. The point is not to alert the world’s population but to get governments to address the issue.

In recent years, monkeypox has occurred repeatedly in some African countries. Since May, infections have increased in other, mainly European, countries not associated with trips to Africa. Most men are affected who have same-sex sex have not been vaccinated against smallpox because of their young age. This vaccination also protects against monkeypox. The emergency committee warned against discriminating against affected groups because it would only be more challenging to combat monkeypox.

source: k.at/picture: pixabay.com

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