July 23 (BBC)– The monkeypox outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The classification is the highest alert that the WHO can issue and follows a worldwide upsurge in cases.
It came at the end of the second meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee on the virus.
More than 16,000 cases have now been reported from 75 countries, said WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
There had been five deaths so far as a result of the outbreak, he added.
There are only two other such health emergencies at present – the coronavirus pandemic and the continuing effort to eradicate polio.
Dr Tedros said the emergency committee had been unable to reach a consensus on whether the monkeypox outbreak should be classified as a global health emergency.
However, he said the outbreak had spread around the world rapidly and he had decided that it was indeed of international concern.
“The WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region, where we assess the risk as high,” he added.