File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / jbruizFile photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / jbruiz

Monkeypox outbreak declared a public health emergency of international concern

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday.

"WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high," WHO's Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a statement.

"There is also a clear risk of further international spread," he added. "So in short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations. For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern."

As of July 22, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has confirmed 681 cases, with 288 of them located in Ontario.

Locally, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit confirmed its first case of the virus on Wednesday, while the Middlesex-London Health Unit confirmed one case in June.

Health Canada has approved a vaccine for immunization against monkeypox and has deployed over 70,000 doses to the provinces and territories to date.

The best practices to avoid contracting or spreading the virus include:

• staying home and limiting contact with others if you have symptoms

• avoiding close physical contact, including sexual contact, with someone who is infected with or may have been exposed to monkeypox

• maintaining good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

• cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and objects in your home, especially after having visitors

The number of Canadian cases is updated weekly on the government's health webpage.

The entirety of the WHO statement can be found here.

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