Monkeypox: Why we want to change name of virus

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The urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising name for the virus is the reason why the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided to change the name of the monkeypox virus and the disease it causes.

The World Health Organization says it is working with experts to come up with a new name for monkeypox.

According to over 30 scientists wrote last week, the continued reference to the virus as African is both inaccurate and discriminatory.

Some 1,600 cases of the disease have been recorded globally in recent weeks.

While 72 deaths have been reported in countries where monkeypox was already endemic, none have been seen in the newly affected 32 countries, such as the UK.

At the latest count, as of 12 June, there were 452 confirmed cases in England, 12 in Scotland, 2 in Northern Ireland and 4 in Wales.

The World Health Organization says it will hold an emergency meeting next week to determine whether to classify the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern – the highest alarm the UN agency can sound.

The only other diseases this has happened for in the past are Swine flu, polio, Ebola, Zika and Covid.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual and concerning.

“For that reason I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the international health regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”

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