The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the international emergency for the outbreak of simian smallpox on Thursday, May 11th. The emergency was declared in July of last year due to a disease that has affected at least 87,000 people in 111 countries, resulting in 140 deaths.
The decision was announced in a press conference by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, one day after the emergency committee met to quarterly assess the outbreak situation. The number of cases has decreased by 90 percent in the past three months.
The international emergency for this disease, known as monkeypox by the WHO, is being lifted six days after the UN agency did the same for the Covid-19 pandemic, also in response to the decrease in cases and deaths. Currently, the highest level of alert remains only for polio.
“I am pleased to declare that monkeypox is no longer an international emergency, but as with Covid-19, that does not mean it has ceased to be a public health challenge,” Tedros emphasized. He pointed out that “the virus still affects communities in all regions, including Africa,” where the disease is endemic.
The Ethiopian expert added that simian smallpox still poses risks to certain patients, such as those infected with the HIV virus, and the fact that infections continue to occur among people traveling internationally “indicates that the threat persists.”
Therefore, Tedros urged national health networks to maintain their capacity for tracing and diagnosing potential cases “to act quickly if necessary,” reinforcing their integration into health systems.