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As of 21 July, there were 2,208 confirmed cases in the UK, mostly in England.
"In short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said of the decision.
While a vaccine rollout has begun, it's hoped that WHO's declaration could accelerate the urgency to keep the disease under control.
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