Monkeypox cases continue to climb in Europe

More than 3,400 confirmed monkeypox cases and one death were reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) as of last Wednesday, with a majority of them from Europe, the agency has said in its latest update.

The WHO said that since 17 June, 1,310 new cases were reported to the agency, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases.

In a somewhat surprising statement, Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the WHO ruled last week, although its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

The WHO said in a separate statement that although there were some differing views within the committee, it ultimately agreed by consensus that at this stage the outbreak is not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the UN agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts.

Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.

There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.