Sakhiseni Nxumalo
Senior journalist
2 minute read
25 Jul 2022

Monkeypox declared an emergency

Sakhiseni Nxumalo

The Monkeypox outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by WHO.


With more than 16 000 cases confirmed from 75 countries, the monkeypox outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

The classification is the highest alert that the WHO can issue and follows a worldwide upsurge in cases. The declaration came after a second meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee on the virus.

In a statement, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been five deaths so far as a result of the outbreak. Ghebreyesus said the outbreak had spread around the world rapidly and was indeed of international concern.

He said too little was understood about the new modes of transmission which had allowed it to spread Ghebreyesus said their assessment was that the risk of monkeypox was moderate globally and in most regions, however, in the European region, risks were assessed as high.

There was also a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment.

“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern. For the moment, this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners. That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.

“It’s therefore essential that all countries work closely with communities of men who have sex with men, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect the health, human rights, and dignity of affected communities,” said Ghebreyesus, adding that stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus.

Ghebreyesus also called upon civil society organisations, including those with experience in working with people living with HIV, to work with the WHO in fighting stigma and discrimination.

Meanwhile, as of yesterday South Africa had three reported cases of the virus: a 32-year-old man in Western Cape, a 42-year-old man in Limpopo, and a 30-year-old man in Gauteng.

Peter Van Heusden, South African National Biodiversity Institute senior bioinformatician said South Africa has already been responding to the virus by taking more precautions.

Van Heusden said a good thing is that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has already got a testing strategy up and running.

On an individual level, Van Heusden said the most vulnerable community needs to be extra careful and always practise safe sex.

He said taking precautions is likely to reduce some risk of transmission.