After weeks of media coverage of the First World-centered outbreak that has focused on the virus’ African origins, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided it’s going to rename monkeypox to diminish the association in the public’s mind.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the UN-affiliated agency was “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus... and the disease it causes."

The move comes just days after more than 30 mostly-African scientists penned a position paper published on the medical discussion forum Virological in which they argued for the “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing nomenclature for monkeypox virus.”

“In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing. The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of photos of African patients to depict the pox lesions in mainstream media in the global north. Recently, Foreign Press Association, Africa issued a statement urging the global media to stop using images of African people to highlight the outbreak in Europe,” they added.

In the report, they note that an equal number of strains of monkeypox virus have been identified inside and outside of Europe, with the first being isolated in Liberia in 1970 and the three most recent strains being spotted in the United States in 2021 and 2022.

Tedros also told reporters that he had “decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the international health regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” which is the highest alarm the agency can sound, according to AFP.

After the outbreak of COVID-19 in China in late 2019 and early 2020, the WHO introduced a new official disease nomenclature to combat the growing stigma against Chinese and other East Asians due to the media commonly referring to the virus as the “Wuhan Virus” or the “Chinese virus.” Then-US President Donald Trump latched onto the Chinese label in an effort to dissociate his administration from responsibility for the outbreak and mass death in the United States that followed - a development that was in part blamed for a sharp spike in violent attacks on Chinese and Chinese-Americans in the US.

Other viruses given common names after locations include the Spanish Influenza pandemic, a global outbreak of H1N1 Influenza A virus that killed tens of millions in the early 20th century. However, the virus did not originate in Spain, it was simply that the press there was not muzzled during World War I, as it was in other nations already experiencing the outbreak, because Spain was a neutral country. Thus, the world first learned of the outbreak via the Spanish press.