Monkeypox outbreak is now a global health emergency


Monkeypox outbreak is now a global health emergency

Jul 24 2022

Covid-19 latest: 14 deaths, 720 in hospital and 5,535 community cases

Image: Toby Morris

The Ministry of Health is today reporting 5,535 community cases, 720 current hospitalisations and 14 deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of community cases today is 8,563. Last Sunday it was 9,803.

All 14 deaths reported today occurred in the past four days. They take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1,990. The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 24.

Of the deaths reported, three were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, four were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from MidCentral, one was from Wellington region, and one was from Southern.

Six were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Eleven were women and three were men.

WHO declares monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency

‘Enemy against humanity’: World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at his daily press briefing on Covid-19, March 2020.  (Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

The quickly growing monkeypox outbreak is now a global health emergency, World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced.

A “public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)” is the WHO’s highest alert level and is designed to trigger a coordinated international response.

The last time a PHEIC was declared was for Covid-19 in 2020. The Zika virus in 2016 in Latin America and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa also prompted similar declarations.

While Tedros said the risk of monkeypox was moderate globally, it was high in Europe and there was “a clear risk of further international spread”.

New Zealand reported its second case of monkeypox on July 12.

World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Monkeypox spreads via close contact and tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions. At the moment the outbreak is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.

“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” said Tedros during his remarks today.

Jimmy Whitworth, emeritus professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, welcomed the declaration, noting that the continued global spread of monkeypox indicates existing health measures have not been sufficient to control it.

The outbreak is concerning to medical professionals due to the difficulty of preventing onward transmission of infection, but Whitworth said “it is not a situation that should unduly worry the general public”.

“This is an infection that is transmitted by close contact – touching skin, coughing and sneezing, sharing of utensils, bedding and so on,” he said, adding that as most people, whatever their sexual orientation, do not have close contact of this sort with many people, “the infection is unlikely to spread easily”.

“It is to be hoped that the increased attention to this disease leads to more focus on control within Africa… where the number of cases has been increasing for the past 20 years,” Whitworth said.