NEW YORK – Officials in New York declared a public health emergency over the outbreak of the monkeypox virus on Saturday, calling the city the “epicenter” of the outbreak.
Mayor Eric Adams and health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in a statement Saturday that up to 150,000 city residents could be at risk of infection. The proclamation would allow officials to issue emergency orders under the city’s health code and amend code provisions to implement measures to slow the spread.
In the past two days, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency, and the state health department has called the monkeypox an “imminent public health threat.”
New York had 1,345 cases on Friday, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California is second with 799.
“We will continue to work with our federal partners to provide more doses as they become available,” Adams and Vasan said in a statement. “This outbreak must be met with urgency, action and resources, both nationally and globally, and this public health emergency declaration reflects the seriousness of the moment.”
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global emergency on July 23, and on Thursday the mayor of San Francisco declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of cases.
The once-rare disease has emerged in parts of central and western Africa for decades, but was not known to cause large outbreaks or spread among humans outside the continent until authorities discovered dozens of outbreaks in Europe, North America and elsewhere. .
To date, more than 22,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in about 80 countries since May, with about 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo. On Friday, Brazil and Spain reported the first monkeypox-related deaths reported outside Africa. Spain reported its second monkeypox death on Saturday.
The virus is spread by prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, as well as by sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. In Europe and North America, it has spread primarily among men who have sex with men, although health officials stress that the virus can infect anyone.
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.