WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday he decided to convene the emergency committee on June 23 because the virus has shown “unusual” recent behavior by spreading in countries well beyond parts of Africa where it is endemic.
“We believe that it needs also some coordinated response because of the geographic spread,” he told reporters.
Declaring monkeypox to be an international health emergency would give it the same designation as the COVID-19 pandemic and mean that WHO considers the normally rare disease a continuing threat to countries globally.
The U.K. said Monday it had 470 cases of monkeypox across the country, with the vast majority in gay or bisexual men. British scientists said last week they could not tell if the spread of the disease in the U.K. had peaked.