WHO convenes emergency meeting on global monkeypox epidemic

The World Health Organization has announced it will hold an emergency meeting with outside experts next Thursday, June 23 to assess whether the monkeypox epidemic is a public health emergency of international concern, the highest alert the WHO can give. Currently, this designation only applies to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to polio.

The number of confirmed and suspected monkeypox infections continues to grow by the day in non-endemic countries around the world, despite the lack of travel links and connections to the clusters known to have been exported from Africa. Many public health experts have urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to act more urgently.

At a press conference on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that the virus has behaved unpredictably and said that as the number of affected countries grows rapidly, there is a need for international coordination to tackle the epidemic. He commented: “I think it is now clear that there is an unusual situation.”

The cumulative number of cases, including confirmed and suspected cases, reached nearly 1,800 as of June 14, 2022. The seven-day average of new cases (over 80) has risen steadily since the first case was discovered in England on May 6, 2022, in a British citizen returning from Nigeria, where the virus is endemic.

Map shows spread of new cases of monkeypox outside the area where the virus is endemic. Countries in red have the largest outbreaks, while those in orange have a smaller number and those in light brown the fewest.

According to a data visualization of monkey pox created by Antonio Caramia, there are 1,688 confirmed cases and 99 suspected. The following 50 countries and territories have confirmed or suspected cases: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Wales.

England leads the world with the highest number of confirmed cases, with 452. Spain is in second place with 313 confirmed cases and 32 suspected cases. Portugal is third with 209. Germany has 188 confirmed and one suspect. Canada has 123 confirmed and 24 suspected, France 91 confirmed and the United States is in seventh place with 65

Monkeypox is also endemic in ten countries in West and Central Africa: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana (identified in animals only), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone .

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