This is the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of monkeypox in several countries The meeting started in the middle of the day, but WHO did not indicate when the conclusions of the experts will be announced.
“The first meeting of the Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of monkeypox in several countries is underway,” confirmed in a tweet, the World Health Organization (WHO). “The emergency committee is expected to issue a statement within days of the meeting,” WHO said, noting that it is a closed meeting.
An upsurge in monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the virus usually circulates. Western countries are at the center of the spread of the virus.
From January 1 to June 15, 2,103 confirmed cases, including one death in Nigeria, were reported to WHO from 42 countries, including Africa. Faced with this global outbreak of cases, the WHO announced on June 14 that it wanted to convene an emergency committee.
Thursday’s emergency committee meeting includes experts from the most affected regions. They will make a recommendation to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
9 emergency committees including two in progress on polio and Covid-19
“The Emergency Committee will advise the Director-General of WHO on whether the event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and, if so, it will offer temporary recommendations on how to better prevent and reduce the spread of the disease and manage the global public health response,” the WHO said.
Known in humans since 1970, monkeypox is considered much less dangerous and contagious than its cousin, smallpox, eradicated in 1980. The disease is caused by a virus transmitted to humans by infected animals.
The viral illness causes flu-like symptoms. It first results in a high fever and quickly evolves into a rash, with the formation of scabs. Most often benign, it generally heals spontaneously after two to three weeks.
There have been 9 emergency committees so far, two of which are ongoing on polio and the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous Emergency Committees have focused in recent years on two Ebola epidemics in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in the province of Equateur as well as in Kivu and Ituri.
WHO experts also met during the Ebola crisis in West Africa (2014-2015). Other International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committees have focused on H1N1, MERS-CoV, Yellow Fever and Zika virus.