WHO committee to reconvene over monkeypox outbreak

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WHO committee to reconvene over monkeypox outbreak

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The World Health Organization (WHO) will reconvene a meeting of an emergency committee regarding the global monkeypox outbreak and whether it should be declared a global health emergency.

According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the forum will be held in the week beginning July 18 or even sooner. 

Previously, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee met to advise on whether monkeypox’s spread should be considered a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). A PHEIC is the highest level of alert the WHO can issue.

Although a few members expressed “differing views,” the WHO said in a statement that the outbreak should not constitute a PHEIC at this stage, although noting the emergency nature of the event and that controlling further transmission necessitates “intense response efforts.” 

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The committee advised that the event should be monitored and reviewed, with several conditions prompting a reassessment. 

In a statement released in response to that decision, Tedros noted that the situation requires collective attention and coordinated action.

Workers sit outside of D.C. Health's first monkeypox vaccination clinic, which is administering the first Jynneos vaccine doses distributed in the U.S. capital, in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2022. 

Workers sit outside of D.C. Health’s first monkeypox vaccination clinic, which is administering the first Jynneos vaccine doses distributed in the U.S. capital, in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2022. 
(REUTERS/Gavino Garay)

The overall risk of monkeypox virus infection is deemed to be “moderate” at the global level and high in the European region.

Around 80% of cases are in Europe, according to Tedros, and more than 6,000 cases have now been reported from 58 countries.

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FILE PHOTO: Mock-up vials labeled "Monkeypox vaccine" are seen in this illustration taken, May 25, 2022. 

FILE PHOTO: Mock-up vials labeled “Monkeypox vaccine” are seen in this illustration taken, May 25, 2022. 
(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

In the U.S., data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows there are now 605 confirmed monkeypox and orthopoxvirus cases. The majority of those cases are in California and New York.

Although the majority of new monkeypox cases have been seen in gay or bisexual men, experts caution that anyone is at potential risk. 

A man awaits his Jynneos vaccine dose as the city launches its first inoculation campaign against monkeypox in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2022. 

A man awaits his Jynneos vaccine dose as the city launches its first inoculation campaign against monkeypox in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2022. 
(REUTERS/Gavino Garay)

People normally become infected with the monkeypox virus through contact with the skin lesions or bodily fluids of infected animals or humans or through contact with materials contaminated with the virus.

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Monkeypox, which is related to smallpox, has milder symptoms. 

Some symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, rash and aches, before lesions develop. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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