The fast spreading and deadly Monkeypox disease has affected over 15,800 people in 72 countries and the World Health Organization on Saturday decided to classify the outbreak as a global health emergency.
A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.
On Jun 23, the WHO convened an emergency committee (EC) of experts to decide if monkeypox constitutes a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) – the UN health agency’s highest alert level.
But a majority advised the Tedros that the situation, at that point, had not met the threshold.
The second meeting was called on Thursday with case numbers rising further, where Tedros said he was worried.
“I need your advice in assessing the immediate and mid-term public health implications,” Tedros told the meeting, which lasted more than six hours.
A US health expert sounded a grim warning late on Friday.
“Since the last #monkeypox EC just weeks ago we’ve seen an exponential rise in cases. It’s inevitable that cases will dramatically rise in the coming weeks & months. That’s why @DrTedros must sound the global alarm,” Lawrence Gostin, the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.
“A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health.”
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
Muscle aches and backache
Swollen lymph nodes
A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.