BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE fast spreading Monkeypox virus has been declared as a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the number of cases continues to climb globally.
This designation is said to be rare from WHO, but the fact that cases have increased to 77 percent since June, it has sparked concerns by many that it could repeat similar threat as COVID-19.
The designation has not prompted many regulations to be imposed just yet, but it has put all global health officials regulators on high alert for the virus which has impacted more that 16,000 persons in more than 70 countries.
During a media briefing today (Jul. 23), WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement of the designation despite there being no consensus.
A month ago, Dr. Ghebreyesus had convened an Emergency Committee to assess the topic of whether it represented a public health emergency of international concern.
At that time, there were just over 3,040 cases from 47 countries and members agreed that it did not warrant the designation.
“Since then, the outbreak has continued to grow, and there are now more than 16 thousand reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths," noted Dr. Ghebreyesus
Another meeting was convened on Thursday (Jul. 21) and no consensus was agreed. That, however, prompted the Director-General to make the determination.
He considered several factors, including information provided which showed that the virus has spread to countries that never reported same.
Additionally, the designation was made because of the risk to human health, international spread and the fact that it could impact international traffic.
“"WHO’s assessment is that the risk of Monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high…” he added.
Currently, the virus has spread to several territories across the region, prompting concerns within the region. But CARPHA and other agencies have called for no restrictions at this time to prevent travel as they monitor the outbreak.
"So, in short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations," Dr. Ghebreyesus.
There are currently four territories within the region monitoring positive or suspected cases, but there is no confirmed or suspected case in the Federation.