New York City declares monkeypox a public health emergency
Healthcare workers with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the city’s vaccination sites on Jul 26, 2022. (File photo: AP/Mary Altaffer)
The announcement on Saturday by Mayor Eric Adams and health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said that as many as 150,000 city residents could be at risk of infection.
The declaration will allow officials to issue emergency orders under the city health code and amend code provisions to implement measures to help slow the spread.
In the last two days, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made a state disaster emergency declaration and the state health department called monkeypox an “imminent threat to public health”.
New York had recorded 1,345 cases as of Friday, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California had the second-most, with 799.
“We will continue to work with our federal partners to secure more (vaccine) doses as soon as they become available,” Adams and Vasan said in the statement.
“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.”
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency on Jul 23.
The once-rare disease has been established in parts of Central and West Africa for decades but was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
The virus spreads through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact as well as sharing bedding, towels and clothing.
The type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak is rarely fatal, and people usually recover within weeks. But the lesions and blisters caused by the virus are painful.