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US declares Monkeypox a public health emergency

US public health officials have declared the spread of the monkeypox disease a public health emergency. The declaration will free up additional government resources to help contain the spread of the virus.

As of August 3, more than 6,600 cases of the disease had been confirmed in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said at a briefing “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,”

The disease can result in symptoms such as fever, headache, aches, chills, and rashes that can be itchy and painful, but is rarely fatal. There have been no reported deaths in the United States.

The CDC website says “Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed,” , The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Earlier this week, the White House named officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the CDC to serve as the White House coordinators to combat the outbreak.

Across the US, a number of states and municipalities have already declared public health emergencies. California, which has 826 confirmed cases, declared a state of emergency on August 1, and New York state, which has 1,666 confirmed cases, made a similar announcement on July 29.

International health organisations have also responded. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the global health organisation’s highest level of alert, on July 23.

Editing by Omotola Oguneye