Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said recently, though intense response efforts are needed to control the further spread of the rare viral disease.
The announcement came Saturday – two days after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus convened an emergency committee on the disease, under the International Health Regulations (IHR), to address the rising caseload.
"The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country monkeypox outbreak, and, at present, does not determine that the event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)," the UN agency said.
The PHEIC declaration is the highest level of global alert, which currently applies only to the Covid-19 pandemic and polio.
Monkeypox occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, though it is occasionally exported to other regions.
Since May, more than 3,000 cases have emerged in 47 countries, many of which never previously reported the disease.
The highest numbers are currently in Europe, and most cases are among men who have sex with men.
There have been few hospitalisations to date and one death.
"The Committee unanimously acknowledged the emergency nature of the outbreak and that controlling further spread requires intense response efforts," the WHO said.
Members also recommended that the situation should be closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks.
"What makes the current outbreak especially concerning is rapid, continuing spread into new countries and regions and the risk of further, sustained transmission into vulnerable populations including people that are immunocompromised, pregnant women and children," Tedros said.
He underscored the need for both collective attention and coordinated action through public health measures including surveillance, contact tracing, isolation and care of patients, and ensuring vaccines, treatments and other tools are available to at-risk populations and shared fairly.