Ottawa – The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is issuing this statement to provide an update on its ongoing response to monkeypox. PHAC continues to work closely with provinces and territories to ensure collaboration and coordination of Canada’s strategic response to address this situation. The Government of Canada took immediate action upon the confirmation of the first cases in Canada. The ongoing response has included developing infection, prevention, and control guidance; providing laboratory testing, sequencing, and guidance to provinces and territories; engaging with community based-organizations; and deploying vaccines and treatments to provinces and territories.
On June 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General convened its International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee to discuss the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox. Over the weekend, in a news release, the WHO Director General confirmed that he concurs with advice offered by the committee and that the multi-country outbreak, at present, is not being declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). However, the IHR Emergency Committee unanimously acknowledged the emergency nature of the event and that controlling the further spread of outbreak requires intense response efforts. The Committee advised that the event should be closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks, once more information about the current unknowns becomes available, to determine if significant changes have occurred that may warrant a reconsideration of their advice.
Since the outset of the monkeypox outbreak, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has been working with domestic and international partners to protect the health of everyone in Canada. The Government of Canada activated its Health Portfolio Operations Centre with the confirmation of the first cases. The National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) continues to conduct testing to confirm a diagnosis of monkeypox for suspected cases, while provincial/territorial public health and health care systems are conducting case investigations and outbreak management. Provinces and territories also have access to approved vaccines in Canada that can be used to manage monkeypox in their jurisdiction. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released recommendations for the use of IMVAMUNE, a Health Canada-approved vaccine, for immunization against monkeypox. Provincial and territorial public health authorities have launched their monkeypox vaccination campaigns and have started vaccinating populations at higher risk.
PHAC continues to provide regular updates on the monkeypox outbreak through public reporting and on Canada.ca/monkeypox, including posting interim infection, prevention and control (IPC) guidance, case and contact management guidance, a national monkeypox case definition, guidance for health professionals and information on risks and symptoms to increase awareness.
Public health leaders across the country are working together on the monkeypox response. PHAC is working with stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, Chief Medical Officers of Health through the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network and international partners/networks, to raise awareness among populations at higher risk. This includes equipping them with the guidance and tools necessary to help manage cases of monkeypox and engaging jurisdictions at the Public Health Network and other federal, provincial and territorial tables to share and analyze information, and develop an approach to support effective and timely outbreak management in Canada.
In addition, PHAC is supporting community-based organizations in the regions currently most impacted by the monkeypox outbreak to reach populations at higher risk of infection, with timely information on how to protect themselves and help slow the spread of monkeypox.
The global understanding of the monkeypox virus is still evolving, and Canada is providing leadership to help improve our understanding of the current monkeypox outbreak, including mobilizing experts and sharing available scientific evidence to inform the response. Recently, an expert panel was convened on several occasions to advise on what is known and not known about monkeypox, including potential research priorities and how to handle potential risks to Canada. Canada has also participated in a WHO sponsored event to develop a Research & Development Blueprint and has participated in a scholarly evidence review of the best-available evidence currently available for the monkeypox outbreak.
As the monkeypox outbreak is ongoing, the Government of Canada will continue to work with the provinces and territories to assess the risks to people in Canada, respond to the evolving situation, and continue to provide updates to the public as new information becomes available.