THE US will declare a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 6600 Americans, two people familiar with the matter said today.
The announcement will free up federal money and other resources to fight the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement.
The declaration comes as the Biden administration has faced criticism over monkeypox vaccine availability. Clinics in major cities such as New York and San Francisco say they haven’t received enough of the two-shot vaccine to meet demand, and some have had to stop offering the second dose to ensure supply of first doses.
The White House said it has made more than 1.1 million doses available and has helped to boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests per week.
The monkeypox virus spreads through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, including hugging, cuddling and kissing, as well as sharing bedding, towels and clothing. People who have become sick so far have been primarily men who have sex with men. But health officials emphasise 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 to serve as the White House coordinators to combat the monkeypox outbreak.