HANDOUT - 29.06.2001, Berlin: Elektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme von Affenpocken-Viren, koloriert (Bestmögliche Bildqualität). Die Zahl der Affenpocken-Nachweise steigt in aller Welt. Ein von der Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) einberufener Notfall-Ausschuss tagt deshalb an diesem Donnerstag zum zweiten Mal innerhalb von vier Wochen. (zu dpa: «WHO-Alarm wegen Affenpocken? Experten erneut beraten in Genf») Foto: Andrea Männel/Andrea Schnartendorff/RKI/dpa - ACHTUNG: Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung und nur mit vollständiger Nennung des vorstehenden Credits +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak an “emergency of international concern” in more than 50 countries. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the highest alert level that can be imposed in the event of a health threat in Geneva on Saturday.

This has no practical consequences. The classification is intended to encourage the governments of member countries to take measures to contain the outbreak. They are intended to sensitize doctors and clinics, take protective measures in suspected cases and educate the population on how to protect themselves from infection.

Tedros cited the number of more than 16,000 confirmed cases in more than 60 countries, many of which previously had virtually no monkeypox cases. There were over 240 cases in six African countries where the virus has previously infected people. In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute reported almost 2,300 cases on Friday.

A committee of independent experts had previously failed to agree on a joint recommendation on whether to declare an emergency. The English abbreviation for an emergency is PHEIC. This stands for “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”.

The WHO also declared the outbreak of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus as such an emergency on January 30, 2020. But that doesn’t mean that people now have to prepare for the same measures for monkeypox as they did for the corona pandemic.

While the coronavirus spreads through aerosols containing viral particles that infected people expel when they breathe, speak or cough, according to current knowledge, monkeypox infections usually occur through close physical contact.

Depending on the disease, the WHO sets up emergency committees, which are staffed with different experts. In addition to the international emergency due to Corona, there has also been an emergency due to polio outbreaks since 2020 (since 2014).