World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday said he plans on reconvening a meeting of his organization’s Emergency Committee to assess the current state of the monkeypox outbreak in Western countries.
In remarks given Thursday, Tedros told WHO member states that he was still concerned about the spread and scale of the monkeypox virus in non-endemic countries.
According to the WHO chief, more than 7,000 cases have been confirmed in 60 countries so far, with Europe currently the epicenter of the outbreak.
Monkeypox is endemic in some central and western African countries, but Tedros noted that the pathogen was now also being detected in non-endemic African countries.
“My teams are following the data closely. I plan to reconvene the Emergency Committee so they are updated on the current epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak, and implementation of counter measures,” said Tedros.
He stated that he plans to convene the meeting during the week of July 18 or sooner if needed.
Last month, the WHO’s Emergency Committee said the monkeypox outbreak did not warrant declaring a global health emergency despite the rapid rise in cases.
At the time, the health organization said the situation was “unusual” but did not constitute a global health emergency, despite opposing views expressed by some members of the committee.
The recent outbreak has raised cries of double standards from global health activists, who argue that monkeypox has been an ongoing health issue in some African countries for years, but is only now garnering sincere attention as it affects Western nations.
More than 70 deaths due to monkeypox have been reported in Africa so far this year, while no deaths directly linked to the virus have been confirmed in non-endemic countries.
The WHO has previously acknowledged that monkeypox has been neglected for several years now.