US to declare health emergency over monkeypox outbreak

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Washington, Aug. 4 (BNA): The U.S. will declare a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 6,600 Americans, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

 

The announcement will free up federal money and other resources to fight the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body.

 

The declaration comes as the Biden administration has faced criticism over monkeypox vaccine availability, reports AP.

 

The White House said it has made more than 1.1 million doses available and has helped to boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests per week.

 

The announcement comes three days after the Biden administration named top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as the White House coordinators to combat the monkeypox outbreak.

 

News of the expected declaration was first reported Thursday by Politico. Such a declaration is an important — and overdue — step, said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University.

 

Under a declaration by the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency can draw from emergency funds, hire or reassign staff to deal with the outbreak, and take other steps to control the virus.

 A public health emergency can be extended, similar to what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.


 
Last week, the World Health Organization called monkeypox a public health emergency, with cases in more than 70 countries.
 
A global emergency is WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal.
 California, Illinois and New York have all made declarations in the last week, as have New York City, San Francisco and San Diego County.


AHN