The World Health Organization on Saturday declared the global spread of monkeypox a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’, one level below the pandemic status assigned to Covid-19. There have now been 16,000 cases recorded in 75 countries, WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The monkeypox outbreak, which began among gay men in Europe in May, is the first disease outbreak to be labeled a public health emergency by the WHO since Covid-19 in January 2020, two months before the latter was declared a global pandemic by the organization.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” Tedros said after a discussion with the WHO’s emergency committee. Pointing to the spread of monkeypox in countries where it is traditionally not found, as well as its risk to human health, Tedros added that “for all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”