California and other US states declare emergencies over monkeypox outbreaks

White House announces new team to formalise federal response to rising cases

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California this week became the largest US state to declare a state of emergency over a widening monkeypox outbreak, joining Illinois and New York.

The state has reported more than 800 cases and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recorded more than 5,800 presumed infections nationally.

The US currently leads the world in monkeypox cases.

“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Monday.

“We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatisation.”

The state's move came after the city of San Francisco issued a local public health emergency last week.

Illinois also declared a health emergency on Monday, bringing the number of states in the US to make such declarations to three.

Also on Monday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined the rest of the state in declaring a health emergency.

The city's health department has recorded more than 1,500 cases, which represents a fourth of all US infections.

The White House on Tuesday announced it had appointed Robert Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis to head a monkeypox response team.

Mr Fenton has worked for several years at the Federal Emergency Management Agency while Mr Daskalakis is a CDC director in the HIV prevention division and is known for his ties to the LGBTQ community.

“Over the coming weeks, under the leadership of Fenton and Daskalakis, the administration will advance and accelerate the United States’ monkeypox response to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect individuals most at risk of contracting the virus and care for those who have been afflicted with it,” a White House statement read.

The current outbreak is mainly affecting gay men in the US and other countries.

Monkeypox is spread through sex, close contact and by touching clothes or other items used by infected people.

The US has yet to report any deaths from the virus but there have been reports of fatalities in other nations facing the rare global outbreak occurring in non-endemic countries.

Updated: August 02, 2022, 8:49 PM