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Monkeypox to be renamed after racism concerns

Monkeypox is set to be renamed after discriminatory concerns

Scientists have put their concerns forward due to a lack of understanding of where the disease originated from and the consequential misunderstanding that it links to the racist terms used against black people likening them to monkeys.

Due to the "urgent need" which was supported by over 30 international scientists the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be renaming the monkeypox virus.

The WHO guidelines prefer names of viruses to not have any geographical link or any animal names.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, announced that the organisation is “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes”.

Monkeypox has spread increasingly this year with experts saying that it has infected people in 45 countries in total with 32 reporting cases of the virus where it is not usually detected.

The WHO have said they will make announcements about the updated names "as soon as possible"

There are currently two versions of the virus, divided by sections of Africa with the western coast and central African being named different.

Scientists would therefore want to eliminate the link between Africa and the virus and rename them simply by numbers, such as MPXV1 and MPXV2.

The responsibility of actually renaming the virus doesn't lie with the WHO though, it is the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses who will change the name.

Concerns over the name of the virus have been raised in the past and also over a month ago when a media body for journalists in Africa, the Foreign Press Association (FPA), urged media outlets in the western world to stop using pictures of black people alongside their stories of monkeypox outbreaks in their countries.

The FPA accused such outlets of perpetuating "negative stereotypes that assigns calamity to the African race and privilege of immunity to other races."

There have been similar concerns and backlash in the past with Covid-19 when former president Donald Trump often referred to it as the 'Chinese virus'.

Donald Trump was condemned for linking Covid-19 to Chinese people

A large portion of the cases of monkeypox so far have been identified in gay and bisexual men who participate in sexual activities with one another, however any one can contract the virus by coming into close contact with an infected person.

It can be also be spread by touching bedding, clothing and other materials which have been touched by someone with the monkeypox rash.

Scientists are trying to contain the virus with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) logging 524 cases in Britain.


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