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Local monkeypox transmission was anticipated

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2022 | 10:37 AM

Jamaica has recorded the first local case of monkeypox. In response, Health and Wellness Minister Christopher Tufton said that "it was anticipated that, sooner or later", but he is confident that his team is putting things in place to handle the situation.

First locally transmitted monkeypox case confirmed

6 Aug 2022/Christopher Thomas

HEALTH AND Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has revealed that Jamaica has now recorded its third confirmed case of the monkeypox virus, with the latest patient being the result of local transmission.

The two previous cases recorded in the island were in persons who had arrived from overseas last month.

Speaking to journalists on Friday while touring the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, Tufton said that the patient was in quarantine and that a technical team from the ministry was reviewing the current situation.

“The difference with this case is that it is a locally transmitted case. ... This individual has not travelled, they have no travel history, and clearly they contracted the virus from someone who had the virus. So, in a sense, that changes the complexion of the challenge that we face,” Tufton explained.

The parish where the latest case was discovered was not disclosed.

“It was anticipated that, sooner or later, we would have local transmission [of monkeypox]. What the technical team is doing as we speak, they are meeting, they are consulting, including with our bilateral and multilateral partners, and looking at the protocols which we have put out already. Plus they are having a discussion with the medical teams in the respective parishes and reviewing how we address concerns around public information, vaccines, and quarantining and contact tracing, if necessary,” said Tufton.

The minister told journalists that he did not believe any major restrictions were imminent, although he acknowledged that the country has to beef up surveillance efforts at the borders.

“... This is something we have to monitor carefully and be concerned about, because, as has been said by the World Health Organization and now by governments like the United States, it is now elevating the status of monkeypox to a public health concern,” Tufton added.

To date, more than 26,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in nearly 90 countries, with a 19 per cent increase in the last week.

The monkeypox virus belongs to the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Symptoms of the infection, which can range from two to four weeks, include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body.

Monkeypox spreads when people have close, physical contact with an infected person’s lesions, their clothing or bedsheets. Most people recover without needing treatment, but the lesions can be extremely painful and more severe cases can result in complications, including encephalitis and death.

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