BREAKING: White House plans to declare monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency
- The White House plans to declare monkeypox a public health emergency as early as Thursday
- It comes as America has confirmed 6,617 cases of the tropical virus, including five pediatric cases
The Biden administration plans to declare a public health emergency over the monkey pox outbreak Thursday afternoon, it was revealed as the number of US cases rose to 6,600.
Officials close to the matter say the move will provide “greater flexibility” in how vaccines are distributed, and regulators will speed up the approval of drugs against the virus.
It is expected to be declared at a press conference scheduled later in the day by Health and Human Services Minister Xavier Becerra, the Washington Post reported after talks with two sources close to the case.
New York, California and Illinois have all declared public health emergencies during the outbreak. The World Health Organization made the statement two weeks ago, after the virus was reported in 70 countries where it is not normally seen.
The monkeypox outbreak in America has become the largest in the world, with a total of 6,600 cases reported in 48 states. No deaths have been recorded in the US so far, but there are four outside Africa, including two in Spain.
Nearly all cases are among gay or bisexual men, but there is “great concern” that monkeypox – which is spread through physical contact – could reach more vulnerable groups. So far, at least five cases have been recorded in children, who are more at risk of serious illness from the virus.
Federal officials have so far been criticized for a delayed response to the virus, potentially allowing it to spread indefinitely for weeks before expanding access to testing and rolling out vaccines to the population. Currently, the country can carry out up to 80,000 monkey pox tests per day.
Federal officials were expected to make the statement last week amid alarm over the ever-increasing number of infections.
But initially, discussions in the White House dragged on, though officials now appear ready to make the statement as part of an effort to contain the virus.
It has now been discovered in nearly every state, amid increased Pap smears and greater awareness of the disease.
Experts say the current data represents the first detections of the virus rather than spreading, pointing out that it probably arrived in many states much earlier. Anecdotal reports of a monkeypox-like disease circulating in Spain date back to February, or three months before the first case was identified.
dr. William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, told DailyMail.com yesterday that monkeypox is now “very widespread” in the US and “out of control.”
New York is currently the national hot spot with more than 1,600 recorded cases, followed by California (826) and Illinois (547).
At the other end of the scale, only Montana and Wyoming — both very rural — have yet to report a first patient with the disease.
This is a story in development.