The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that its emergency committee had determined that monkeypox should continue to be classified as a global health emergency.
Following an Oct. 20 meeting on the virus that suddenly began spreading across the world in May, experts “consensusally estimated that the event continues to meet the…criteria for a health emergency. of international concern,” the WHO said in a statement. .
The UN health agency first declared so-called PHEIC – its highest level of alarm – on July 23, and experts said that while progress had been made in bringing the disease under control, it was too early to declare the emergency over.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accepted and endorsed the expert opinion, the statement said.
Since monkeypox suddenly started spreading beyond West African countries where it has long been endemic six months ago, it has killed 36 people out of more than 77,000 cases in 109 countries, according to a tally from the WHO.
The epidemic outside of West Africa has primarily affected young men who have sex with men.
But since peaking in July, the number of people infected with the disease, which causes fever, muscle aches and large boil-like skin lesions, has been falling steadily, particularly in Europe and the United States. North America, the hardest hit regions in the early stages of the global crisis. epidemic.
The number of new cases worldwide fell 41% in the seven days to Monday compared to the previous week, the WHO said.
But the WHO’s emergency committee stressed there were a number of lingering reasons for concern.
They listed ongoing transmission in some regions, the continued inequality of preparedness and response within and between countries, and the potential for greater health impacts if the virus begins to spread further among the most vulnerable populations. vulnerable.
They also highlighted the continued risk of stigma and discrimination, with weak health systems in some developing countries leading to under-reporting, and lack of equitable access to diagnostics, antivirals and vaccines.
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