WHO declares end to mpox global public health emergency

The World Health Organization says it is ending its global health emergency declaration for mpox, a viral disease previously referred to as monkeypox.

On Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared an end to the public health emergency of international concern status for the disease. The decision was based on a recommendation from the organization's expert committee.

Mpox is a viral infection that causes symptoms, such as a fever and a rash. Reports of mpox cases started increasing mainly in Western countries around last May. That prompted the WHO to declare a global emergency last July. The disease had rarely been detected outside Africa before.

A WHO report shows that more than 87,000 mpox cases were confirmed in 111 countries and economies from the beginning of 2022 through May of this year. The death toll has reached 140.

The WHO said over 7,500 cases were reported in the week that started on August 8 of last year. That was the global peak. It added that the number of weekly cases has dropped to just over 100 in recent months.

While declaring an end to the emergency situation, Tedros warned that, as with COVID-19, this does not necessarily mean that the work is over. He urged countries to maintain their testing capacity and integrate mpox prevention and treatment into existing health programs in order to brace for possible future outbreaks.

Meanwhile, mpox cases have been confirmed in Japan since the start of this year. The health ministry is calling on people with suspected symptoms to see doctors immediately.