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WHO to convene second emergency meeting to decide if monkeypox is global health threat as cases rise

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Health officer uses a thermal head to detect a monkeypox virus on arriving passengers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang near Jakarta, Indonesia on May 15, 2019.
Jepayona Delita | Future Publishing | Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it will convene a second emergency meeting next week to decide if monkeypox poses a global health threat as cases rise to 9,200.

The U.N. agency declined last month to declare a global emergency in response to monkeypox. But as infections have risen substantially over the last several weeks, the organization is expected to consider whether to issue its highest-level alert when its emergency committee reconvenes next week.

About 9,200 cases of monkeypox have been reported across 63 countries so far this year, up from just over 6,000 as of July 4, the WHO said. Three deaths from the virus have been reported this year.

Most people during this most recent outbreak are recovering from monkeypox in two to four weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the virus causes a painful rash that can spread all over the body. People who have caught the virus said the rash, which looks like pimples or blisters, can be very painful.

The WHO last issued a global health emergency in January 2020 in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and the following March declared it a pandemic. There’s no official process for the WHO to declare a pandemic under its emergency regulations, which means the term is loosely defined. In 2020, the agency declared Covid a pandemic in an effort to warn complacent governments about the “alarming levels of spread and severity” of the virus.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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