Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency in New York City, with officials declaring that the city is currently the epicentre of the outbreak and an estimated 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at the risk of exposure.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Ashwin Vasan on Saturday declared a public health emergency due to the monkeypox outbreak.
"Over the past few weeks, we have moved as quickly as possible to expand outreach and access to vaccines and treatment to keep people safe," the officials said.
The declaration, effective immediately, will allow DOHMH to issue emergency commissioner's orders under the New York City Health Code and amend provisions of the Health Code to provide for measures to help slow the spread.
The officials said that New York City is currently the epicentre of the outbreak, and it is estimated that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure.
"We will continue to work with our federal partners to secure more doses as soon as they become available. This outbreak must be met with urgency, action, and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the seriousness of the moment," they said.
"We are also working with partners at every level of government, to obtain as many additional doses as possible, as quickly as possible, so that we can protect New Yorkers during this growing outbreak," the authorities said.
Last week, the World Health Organisation had declared monkeypox a global public health emergency and called on nations to work closely with communities of men who have sex with men and adopt measures that protect the health, human rights, and dignity of affected communities.
"We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations... For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.
A month ago, Ghebreyesus had convened the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations to assess whether the multi-country monkeypox outbreak represented a public health emergency of international concern.
At the time, 3040 cases of monkeypox had been reported to WHO, from 47 countries.
"Since then, the outbreak has continued to grow, and there are now more than 16 thousand reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths," he had said adding that in light of the evolving outbreak, the committee was reconvened on Thursday to review the latest data and advise me accordingly.
Ghebreyesus had said though he is declaring a public health emergency of international concern, "for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners"."That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups. It's therefore essential that all countries work closely with communities of men who have sex with men, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities," the WHO Chief had said.