Washington – The United States today declared a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 6,600 Americans.
The emergency was activated by the United States Department of Health.
“We are prepared to take our response to the next level,” Health Secretary Xavier Becerra told a news conference.RELATED
The declaration will allow national agencies to access emergency funds and will facilitate the management of vaccines and treatments for the disease. It will also promote awareness and information efforts that, according to the authorities, are essential to contain the infections, which are advancing rapidly in the country.
“We encourage all Americans to take monkeypox seriously and take responsibility to help us deal with this virus,” the health secretary added.
In light of evolving circumstances on the ground, I am declaring a public health emergency on #monkeypox. We are prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus. We urge every American to take monkeypox seriously.
– Secretary Xavier Becerra (@SecBecerra) August 4, 2022
The statement comes at a time when the Biden administration has faced criticism over the availability of the monkeypox vaccine. Clinics in major cities such as New York and San Francisco say they have not received enough of the two-shot vaccine to meet demand, and some have had to stop offering the second dose to ensure supplies of the first. .
The White House said it has made more than 1.1 million doses available and has helped increase national diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests per week.
The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, including hugging, cuddling, and kissing, as well as sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. It can cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. The people who have gotten sick so far have been mainly men who have sex with men. But health authorities stress that the virus can infect anyone.
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 as White House coordinators to combat the smallpox outbreak. bow.
News of the long-awaited declaration was first reported Thursday by Politico.
Such a declaration is an important step — and a late one — said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University.
“It signals the seriousness and purpose of the United States government, and sounds a global alarm,” he said.
Under a statement from the Department of Health, the agency can draw on emergency funds, hire or reassign staff to deal with the outbreak and take other measures to control the virus.
A public health emergency can spread, similar to what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US government’s decision comes after others have made similar statements.
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 alert level, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly communicable or deadly.
California, Illinois and New York have all made statements in the past week, as have New York City, San Francisco and San Diego County.
With information from AP and EFE.