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US to declare monkeypox public health emergency

US President Joe Biden’s administration plans to declare the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency as soon as Thursday, the Washington Post reported, citing sources familiar with the issue.

The declaration is set to come from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, who is expected to discuss the plan at an afternoon briefing, the Washington Post reported. The decision would free up additional funding as well.

On August 2 President Biden appointed two top federal officials to coordinate his administration’s response to monkeypox, following declarations of emergencies by California, Illinois and New York.

Cases have crossed 6,600 in the United States, as of Wednesday’s data.

The US government had through mid-July distributed 156,000 monkeypox vaccine doses nationwide. It has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s BAVA.CO vaccine.

Although monkeypox can affect anyone and is transmitted through close contact, nearly all cases outside of Africa have been in men who have sex with other men. In New York, only 1.4 pct of monkeypox patients self-identified as straight, with the rest describing themselves as gay, bisexual or declining to say, according to recent data.

First identified in monkeys in 1958, the disease has mild symptoms including fever, aches and pus-filled skin lesions, and people tend to recover from it within two to four weeks, according to the World Health Organisation.

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