More than 70 countries have reported about 14,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox infections, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said. In addition, five deaths have also been reported from Africa, he wrote on Twitter, adding that the global health agency is increasing efforts to curb the spread of the infectious disease. “Almost 14,000 confirmed #monkeypox cases have now been reported to WHO this year, from more than 70 countries and territories,” Ghebreyesus tweeted.
“So far, 5 deaths have been reported, all in Africa,” he added. In a video posted on the microblogging site, the WHO Director-General said that most cases of monkeypox continue to be reported from Europe.
The cases are primarily seen among men who have sex with men. While some countries are reporting a decline in case numbers, others are seeing a surge. The head of the UN health body also said that “six new countries reported their first cases last week – some of which have much less access to diagnostics and vaccines, making the outbreak harder to track and stop”.
Ghebreyesus further said that the WHO is validating, procuring, and shipping tests to multiple countries and will continue to provide support for expanded access to effective diagnostics.
“@WHO will continue to do everything we can to support countries to stop transmission and save lives,” he tweeted.
Information is one of the most powerful tools against the outbreak, he said, adding that more information will allow the people at risk to protect themselves better.
“WHO is continuing to work with patients and community advocates to develop and deliver information tailored to the affected communities, and more likely to be accepted and implemented,” he said.
Meanwhile, Eric Feigl-Ding, a top US epidemiologist and health economist has warned that monkeypox infection is not showing signs of slowing down and is on track to hit 100,000 by August as per an earlier forecast.
Feigl-Ding has called for an early global response to monkeypox infections to avoid echoing the mistakes of the Covid. He also urged the WHO to declare monkeypox as global public health emergency.
The WHO, on its part, has “reconvened the Emergency Committee” on Thursday to deliberate on declaring the virus a global health emergency.
In the last meeting held on June 23, the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee resolved by consensus that at this stage the outbreak does not warrant a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).