WHO calls emergency meeting as monkeypox cases rise

Thursday, July 7, 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced its plan to reconvene the Emergency Committee on monkeypox under the International Health Regulations as infections continue to soar globally.

In June, the WHO’s Emergency Committee resolved by consensus the outbreak does not constitute a global public health emergency at this stage.

However, addressing the media on Wednesday, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he remains concerned by the scale and spread of the virus.

Speaking to the media, Ghebreyesus said there are now more than 6 000 cases recorded in 58 countries.

In addition, Ghebreyesus said testing remains a challenge and suspects some infections are not being “picked up”.

"Europe is the current epicentre of the outbreak, recording more than 80% of monkeypox cases globally," Ghebreyesus revealed. 

“My teams are following the data. I plan to reconvene the Emergency Committee so they're updated on the current epidemiology and evolution of the monkeypox outbreak and the implementation of countermeasures. I'll bring them together in the week of 18 July or sooner if needed."

Meanwhile, he told the media that the agency is working with countries and vaccine manufacturers to coordinate vaccine sharing, which is currently scarce and desperately needed for people at higher risk of contracting the viral disease.

"WHO is also working closely with civil society and the LGBTQI+ community, especially to break the stigma around the virus and spread information so people can protect themselves."

He commended those posting videos on social media talking about their symptoms and experiences.

“This is a positive way to break down the stigma about a virus that can affect anyone.”

According to the latest epidemiological update, from 1 January to 4 July 2022, 6 027 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox and three deaths have been reported to WHO from 59 countries in five WHO regions.

Since 27 June 2022, 2 614 new cases (77% increase) and two new deaths have been reported, while nine new areas have reported infections.

“The clinical presentation of monkeypox cases associated with this outbreak has been atypical, as many cases in newly-affected areas are not presenting with the classically described clinical picture for monkeypox, that is, fever, swollen lymph nodes, followed by a centrifugal rash.”

Data shows that among the cases who reported at least one symptom, 81% presented with systemic rash (widespread rash on the body), 50% presented with fever and 41% presented with genital rash. – SAnews.gov.za

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