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Monkeypox Outbreak Now a Global Health Emergency as WHO Raises Alert Level to the Maximum



Photo Credits: Future Publishing via Getty Images

The World Health Organization has now labeled Monkeypox as an international emergency. Recently, the outbreak was given the highest alert status, which means that it is urgent and requires immediate attention by all countries across the globe.

With the declaration, scientists at the WHO have recognized that the virus and its outbreak is a potential threat to countries across the globe. They plan on coordinating with world leaders in order to scale down the rate of spread and prevent it from entering new country borders.

However, the WHO cannot force countries to follow its protocols. Instead, it only disseminates recommendations and guidelines that can be used as a starting point for developing a plan of action in response to an emergency or crisis situation.

Last month, it seemed like the WHO was hesitant to declare the Monkeypox outbreak as an international emergency. But with the unprecedented rise in cases and concern that more may go unnoticed or unreported, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was compelled to take action.

The emergency committee meets before giving the highest level for an outbreak. If they feel that the conditions are right for one, they endorse it to the director general; however, in the case of Monkeypox, the committee did not reach a consensus on whether or not to issue a highest-level alert. Tedros, in his authority as the Chief, was the one who declared it.

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“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” the director general said. “For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”

To date, over 16,000 positive cases of the virus have been recorded in 70 countries. This is an increase from June to July by 77%. Many transmissions can be attributed to same-sex activities, according reports by WHO.

Africa is the only country in which people have died from this virus so far, with a confirmed death of five infected individuals. Other countries are reporting zero deaths.

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that patients who contract Monkeypox usually recover in two to four weeks’ time, with a few rarer cases taking up residence at longer times.

Those who are infected with the Monkeypox virus experience symptoms like fever, fatigue, and many other ailments. The most obvious of these is a rash that spreads over their body – it looks likes bumps with fluids on the skin and, as per patient’s reports, can be very painful too.

The spread of the virus is unusual

According to experts, it is unusual for this virus not only to be spread across regions where it had never broken through before but also at a time when most cases are low in West and Central Africa, where it is endemic.

The United States has seen over 2,500 confirmed Monkeypox-infected individuals coming from 44 states, including Washington and Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the WHO considers Europe as the epicenter of the outbreak, composing over 80% of the total cases worldwide.

It is not certain where the spread of this virus began, but according to experts, it could have been anywhere. A UK patient traveled from Nigeria before being diagnosed with the virus.

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The United States and Canada then followed suit, detecting Monkeypox within their jurisdictions.

The World Health Organization was last compelled to issue a global emergency when the Covid-19 strain struck countries in January 2020. The outbreak then became pandemic levels due largely because it spread so quickly and extensively.

The lead expert on Monkeypox, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, says that the recent outbreaks are far from being categorized as a pandemic and more research needs to be done before drawing any conclusions about whether it is one or not.

However, experts are concerned that the virus could permanently take up residence in countries where it has already been introduced.

According to the head of the WHO’s health emergencies program, Dr. Mike Ryan, “This transmission has been occurring in African countries in two particular zones over a large number of years, and we don’t fully understand what’s driving transmission in those countries.”

“There’s a lot more investigation to do and a lot more investment to make in understanding that problem,” he added.

Source: CNN

Based in LA, Alice Blake is a senior reporter for Kivo Daily. She primarily covers entrepreneurs.