The outbreak of monkeypox had caused concern around the world. The World Health Organization is now giving the all-clear – at least for the time being.

The outbreak of monkeypox in more than 50 countries is not initially classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “emergency of international concern”.

The UN organization in Geneva announced this on Saturday evening after deliberations by an emergency committee that had been convened out of concern about the infections. However, the Committee intends to quickly reassess the situation if the contagion rate and the number of countries affected increase in the coming weeks, if cases increase among vulnerable groups, or if the virus changes.

“I am deeply concerned about the spread of monkeypox, which has now been detected in more than 50 countries,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. There have been 3,000 cases since May. Measures such as surveillance, risk communication, contact tracing, isolation, treatment and vaccination need to be stepped up to contain the outbreak, he said.

The WHO followed the recommendation of the Monkeypox Emergency Committee. It includes independent experts from all over the world who assess the threat situation. An international health emergency – in English “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) – is the highest alert level that the WHO can impose in the event of a health threat. The point is not to alarm the world’s population, but to alert governments to take up the issue.