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MATTER OF CONCERN

WHO declares Monkey Pox a global emergency

The declaration is the WHO's highest level of alert.

In Summary

•More than 16,000 cases have been reported from 75 countries.

•Tedros said the declaration would help speed up the development of vaccines and the implementation of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020
Image: REUTERS

The World Health Organisation has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.

The classification is the highest alert that the WHO can issue and follows a worldwide upsurge in cases all over the world.

According to WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, more than 16,000 cases have been reported from 75 countries.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of cases in countries in West and Central Africa. The demographic profile appears different to the patterns shown in Europe and the Americas, with more women and children among the cases in Africa. 

The outbreak has spread worldwide "rapidly," and officials understand "too little" about the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

"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," Tedros told a media briefing in Geneva.

"The clinical presentation of monkey pox occurring in outbreaks outside Africa is generally that of a self-limited disease, often atypical to cases described in previous outbreaks, with rash lesions localised to the genital, and mouth," he added.

Symptoms of monkeypox include a rash which starts on the face and spreads to the body
Symptoms of monkeypox include a rash which starts on the face and spreads to the body
Image: GETTY IMAGES

No cases had been reported in Kenya until a few weeks ago, with the few being concentrated among health workers accoriding to PS health Susan Mochache.

Investigations so far have not identified cases of occupational transmission, although investigations are ongoing.

On Saturday, WHO officials said they were exploring the possibility of the virus spreading via new modes of transmission.

Tedros said the declaration would help speed up the development of vaccines and the implementation of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Currently, the world is dealing with a polio outbreak and the long term Covid-19 pandemic.

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