WHO to convene monkeypox emergency committee

The World Health Organization says it will convene an emergency committee next week to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the decision at a news conference on Tuesday.

He said more than 1,600 confirmed cases and almost 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported to the WHO from 39 countries. The disease is spreading in Western nations although it was rarely found outside Africa before.

Tedros said it is clear the virus is behaving unusually from how it used to behave in the past. He added that the virus is affecting more and more countries, and that some coordinated response is necessary.

The emergency committee meeting will take place on June 23, with experts from a number of countries invited.

In the past, the WHO declared public health emergencies of international concern for the outbreaks of Ebola and polio. It did the same for COVID-19 in January 2020.