Ahead of WHO emergency deliberations, Global Health Network declares monkeypox a pandemic

Ahead of the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency meeting on Thursday to decide whether the current global outbreak of the monkeypox virus should be declared a public health emergency of international concern (USPPI), the Global Network of Health (WHN), an independent international collaboration of scientists and concerned citizens, said on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022that the monkeypox outbreak met the definition of a pandemic.

The statement reads: “The Global Health Network (WHN) today announced that it is declaring the current outbreak of monkeypox a pandemic as there are now 3,417 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported in 58 countries, and the epidemic is growing rapidly on several continents”.

They explained that without concerted global action, the epidemic would continue and affect vulnerable populations such as children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people. They warned that all people 40 and under who have never been immunized against smallpox remain extremely vulnerable to monkeypox, and spillage on animals such as rodents and pets would potentially make the pathogen endemic to a wide geographic region with significant long-term consequences. .

The WHN statement says: “Even with death rates far below those of smallpox, unless action is taken to stop the ongoing spread – actions that can be practically implemented – millions of people will die, and many more will become blind and crippled”. So far, only one death in Brazil has been attributed to monkeypox.

As of June 24, there have been 4,118 confirmed or suspected cases in at least 65 countries and territories. Yesterday, 461 more cases were added to the growing total. The seven-day rolling average of new infections has risen to 280 per day and continues to rise. Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea are the latest countries in Asia to have confirmed cases. Other non-endemic countries have recently reported cases of monkeypox, including South Africa, Croatia, Bulgaria, Colombia and Gibraltar.

Figure 1: Seven-day average and cumulative cases of monkeypox infections. Source @antonio_caramia gave the WSWS permission to use these numbers. Please follow the Hyperlink to the website.

The case in Singapore involved a British Airways flight attendant who frequented several establishments during his layovers in mid-June. On June 20, he developed flu-like symptoms and pathognomonic rashes, prompting him to seek medical attention. Singapore’s health ministry told reporters the man was being treated at the National Center for Infectious Diseases, 13 close contacts had been identified and a search was ongoing.

The South Korean citizen who reported to the Korea CDC had just returned from Germany, where cases have recently spiked. He was symptomatic on his return flight with headaches, fever, sore throat, fatigue and skin lesions. Another case is also under consideration.

On Thursday, South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced they had confirmed a case of monkeypox in a 30-year-old man from Johannesburg with no travel history, meaning he was of community and the extent of infections remains unknown. The health minister assured the press that contact tracing was ongoing.

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