WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the committee shares “serious concerns about the scale and speed of the current epidemic”, which he said covers more than 50 countries, with about 3,000 cases since early May.
The committee agreed that the outbreak requires “coordinated action” to stop the further spread of the monkeypox virus through public health measures, including surveillance, contact monitoring, isolation and patient care.
But there were differing views among committee members as to whether the event was still a health emergency of international significance – the highest level of warning a WHO can issue. Coronavirus, which causes covid-19, is labeled as PHEIC after a similar meeting in January 2020.
“Everyone is tired of the covid pandemic and no one wants to hear about another type of infectious disease outbreak. But the thing is that we are somehow on the brink of suppression among men who have sex with men … And to get us where we need to go, we need global coordination and global commitment, ”said Gregg Gonsalves, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health, which believes monkeypox should now be declared a global state of emergency.
Gonsalves, an adviser to the WHO Emergency Committee without the right to vote, said he was particularly concerned about a possible increase in transmission during Pride celebrations happening around the world by the fall.
The monkeypox is spread by close contact and has so far primarily affected men who have sex with men. It begins with flu-like symptoms before fluid-filled lumps or lesions appear on the skin, which can leave permanent scars. Health officials say the latest epidemic has often brought a rash to the genitals, and while most cases are mild and patients recover in three weeks, the virus can be deadly and pose a higher risk to pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems.
The committee noted that monkeypox has been circulating in many African countries for decades and has been neglected in terms of research, attention and funding – which has previously led some experts to suggest double standards in response to the epidemic in Europe.
“This must change not only for monkeypox but also for other neglected diseases in low-income countries as the world is once again reminded that health is an interrelated attitude,” Tedros said in a statement Saturday.
“What makes the current epidemic particularly worrying is the rapid, continuous spread to new countries and regions and the risk of further, continuous transmission to vulnerable populations, including immunocompromised people, pregnant women and children,” he added.
Tedros said Thursday that nearly 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox and about 70 deaths have been reported in central Africa this year.
In a separate statement On Saturday, the WHO committee noted that “many aspects of the current epidemic in several countries are unusual,” including cases reported in countries where the virus has not been previously documented, and the fact that the vast majority of cases have been reported among men who have sex with men. , younger, who have not been previously vaccinated against smallpox. ”
The first case of monkeypox in the United States was discovered on May 17th. Over the past five weeks, more than 100 cases have been added, according to to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California, New York and Illinois are listed as the countries with the highest levels of infection.
Some experts in the United States they call to the White House to conduct thorough testing to avoid pandemic failures.
The UK has the highest reported number of infections outside Central and West Africa, with almost 800 cases of the virus recorded in the last month.
Jennifer Hassan of London contributed to this report.
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