Monkeypox a pandemic, declares World Health Network

With more countries coming under the grip of the monkeypox outbreak, the World Health Network (WHN), an independent coalition of scientists formed to tackle the COVID-19 threat, has declared the disease a pandemic. The WHN said that the essential purpose of declaring a pandemic is to achieve a concerted effort across multiple countries or over the world to prevent widespread harm. An infection is declared pandemic when it grows over a wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people.

There are 3,417 confirmed monkeypox cases reported across 58 countries and the outbreak is rapidly expanding across multiple continents, it said in a statement.

The announcement comes ahead of the World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting which is currently taking place (June 23) to decide on monkeypox outbreak designation.

“There is no justification to wait for the monkeypox pandemic to grow further. The best time to act is now. By taking immediate action, we can control the outbreak with the least effort, and prevent consequences from becoming worse,” said Yaneer Bar-Yam, PhD, President of New England Complex System Institute and co-founder of WHN. 

“The actions needed now only require clear public communication about symptoms, widely available testing, and contact tracing with very few quarantines. Any delay only makes the effort harder and the consequences more severe.”

Also see | Monkeypox outbreaks: A list of countries that recorded cases recently. Will it be like COVID-19 pandemic?

Even with death rates much lower than smallpox, unless actions are taken to stop the ongoing spread—actions that can be practically implemented—millions of people will die and many more will become blind and disabled, it said.

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Based on evidences, monkeypox has been found to be spreading through many different routes of transmission, including physical contact (touching an infected individual, especially the rash / postules), contact with contaminated clothing, bedding and objects, breathing airborne particles, and intimate contact/sex.