WHO warns monkeypox outbreak may only be ‘tip of the iceberg’

Calling for strict action, the World Health Organization has warned that the outbreak of monkeypox could be just “the tip of the iceberg”.

Sylvie Briand, head of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention at the WHO, has expressed concern over the growing number of monkeypox cases around the world.

“We don’t know if we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Briand told a press briefing.

The UN agency said it was considering whether the outbreak should be assessed as a “potential public health emergency of international concern” or PHEIC.

Cases of monkeypox, a usually mild disease that is spread through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions, have spread across Europe.

Nearly 400 suspected and confirmed cases have been reported to the World Health Organization in nearly two dozen countries far from states where the virus is endemic since Britain first reported a confirmed case of monkeypox May 7.

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When asked if this monkeypox outbreak had the potential to turn into a pandemic, Rosamund Lewis, technical lead for monkeypox in WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said: “We don’t know, but we don’t. don’t think so.”

“At this time, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” she said.

“We really don’t know yet if there is asymptomatic transmission of monkeypox – indications in the past have been that it’s not a major feature – but that remains to be determined,” she added.

Monkeypox is linked to smallpox, which killed millions of people worldwide each year before it was eradicated in 1980. But monkeypox is much less serious, and most people recover in three to four weeks.

(With agency contributions)

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