Looking at the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries, the World Health Organization declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern." Speaking at the press conference on the report of the 2nd meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee regarding the monkeypox outbreak, Ghebreyesus said that he convened the emergency committee, a month ago, to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represented a public health emergency of international concern.
He further said that during that meeting, the committee came to the conclusion that monkeypox was not represented as a public health emergency of international concern.
"At that meeting, while differing views were expressed, the committee resolved by a consensus that the monkeypox outbreak did not represent a public health emergency of international concern," WHO chief said.
Ghebreyesus noted that at that time, as many as 3,040 monkeypox cases were reported from 47 countries and till now, over 16,000 cases were reported from 75 countries and territories. He further said that five people have died from that virus.
"In light of the evolving [monkeypox] outbreak, I reconvened the committee on Thursday of this week to review the latest data and advise me accordingly. I thank the committee for its careful consideration of the evidence, and issues," the WHO chief said.
Underlining the five elements that are used over deciding whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, Ghebreyesus said that firstly, the information provided by countries shows the rapid growth of the virus.
"Second, the three criteria for declaring a public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations, which have been met." He further added that the third one was the advice of the Emergency Committee, which has not reached a consensus.
The fourth one was the scientific principles, evidence and other relevant information, which are insufficient and the last one was the risk to human health, international spread and the potential for interference with international traffic.
"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," he added.
The WHO chief noted that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions except in the European region where we assess the risk as high.
"There is also a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment," he added.
"Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners."
Meanwhile, in India, three cases of monkeypox have been reported so far. Earlier, on July 14, India reported the first monkeypox case of a UAE traveller from Kerala. And even the other two cases were also reported in Kerala.
"The country's third monkeypox case confirmed in a 35-year-old man who returned to Mallapuram from UAE on July 6. He was admitted with fever at Manjerry Medical College Hospital on the 13th (July) and from 15th he began showing symptoms. His family and close contacts are under observation," Kerala Health Minister Veena George said.
The southern state on July 19 started monkeypox testing at NIV Alapuzha.