Nearly 5,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in humans worldwide this year. In more than 40 countries outside of Africa, where monkeypox was practically unknown until May, there were 3308 cases, according to data from the US health authority CDC as of Wednesday shortly before midnight CEST.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are also around 1,600 suspected or confirmed cases in eight African countries, many of which have known such outbreaks for years.

The WHO emergency committee on monkeypox began its deliberations in Geneva on Thursday. The experts represented in it are to assess whether it is an “emergency of international concern”, the highest alert level that the WHO can impose. The WHO usually follows the recommendation of the experts. This would not have any practical consequences, but it should wake up all countries to look out for cases and take their own precautions to contain the spread.

According to the WHO, the result of the deliberations is not expected until Friday at the earliest. Depending on the decision of the WHO, the committee meets at loose intervals over several weeks or months. The chair is Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among others, specialists from Japan, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, Russia, Morocco and Nigeria are represented.