Officials of San Francisco, in the western U.S. state of California, declared a state of emergency on Thursday in response to the growing spread of monkeypox across the city.

“We want the flexibility to be able to use our resources to best serve the public and protect the health,” San Francisco Health Officer Susan Philip said.

Philip emphasized that she was not planning to call for any closures or restrictions, which distinguishes the emergency declaration from the health orders issued amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a very important step by San Francisco,” California state senator Scott Wiener said.

As of Wednesday, the city reported that 261 people had confirmed or probable monkeypox infections. City health officials said they anticipate the figure will grow in the coming days. “As we know there are more cases that have yet to be diagnosed,” Philip said.

San Francisco health officials announced on June 3 that the first probable case of monkeypox was identified in a patient in the city.

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