The global monkeypox outbreak has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) – the strongest call to action the agency can make.
It is the seventh time such a declaration has been made since 2009, the most recent being for Covid-19, which was given the same label by the WHO in 2020, and follows a meeting of a committee of experts on Thursday.
Monkeypox is a viral infection typically found in animals in central and western Africa, although it can cause outbreaks in humans. While cases are occasionally identified in countries where the virus is not endemic, the latest outbreak has been unprecedented.
While countries in Europe have been hardest hit, cases have also been reported in the US, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, Israel, Brazil and Mexico among others.
The WHO said the outbreak was largely among men who have sex with men who had reported having sex recently with new or multiple partners. However, experts have stressed that anyone can get monkeypox as it is spread by close or intimate contact, with the UN having warned that some media portrayals of Africans and LGBTQ+ people “reinforce homophobic and racist stereotypes and exacerbate stigma”.
Monkeypox declared global health emergency by WHO as cases surge | Monkeypox | The GuardianMonkeypox declared global health emergency by WHO as cases surge | Monkeypox | The Guardian