The World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on Thursday that mpox no longer represents a global health emergency, nearly a year after the disease formerly known as monkeypox began spreading over the world.
Following a drop in case counts, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in an online press conference that he was “pleased to declare” that he had accepted the advice of the UN agency’s emergency committee on mpox to withdraw the highest level of alert.
The declaration comes just a week after the WHO declared Covid to be no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
“While the emergencies of mpox and Covid-19 are both over, the threat of resurgent waves remains for both. Both viruses continue to circulate and both continue to kill,” Tedros said.
“Mpox continues to pose significant public health challenges that require a robust, proactive, and long-term response,” he added, urging countries to be cautious.
Though long established in regions of Central and West Africa, instances of mpox began to emerge in Europe, North America, and elsewhere in May of last year, primarily among men who had intercourse with males.
In July, the WHO declared mpox a PHEIC. However, the number of people afflicted with the disease, which causes fever, muscle aches, and big boil-like skin lesions, has steadily declined since then.
According to a WHO calculation, over 87,000 cases and 140 deaths have been reported from 111 countries during the global outbreak.
However, Tedros said that the latest three months saw nearly 90% fewer incidents than the preceding three months.
“While we welcome the global decline in Mpox cases, the virus continues to affect communities in all regions, including Africa, where transmission remains unknown,” he said.
After the status of Covid and mpox was lifted, there is presently only one WHO-designated PHEIC – for poliovirus, which was proclaimed in May 2014.