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Our Jamaica

COVID-19 blueprint should be used for monkeypox

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2022 | 7:18 AM

New health concerns are being raised with the majority of the nation's schools now engaged face-to-face classes and the increasing cases of monkeypox. Schools should employ the same protocols used to limit the spread of the virus.

Schools urged to ramp up safety as monkeypox death under probe

13 Sep 2022/Sashana.small@gleanerjm.com

AS THE Ministry of Health investigates its first suspected monkeypox death, Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) Regional Technical Director Michael Bent has warned school administrators to ramp up infectioncontrol measures to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading.

That caution comes against the near-full-scale roll-out of classes islandwide on Monday – the first real test of mass student numbers since schools shuttered their doors in March 2020 to stave off transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Bent urged school leaders to enforce the infection-control methods that they had implemented to curb the spread of COVID19. Those options include handwashing and sanitisation and the wearing of masks.

“Now that the schools have been reopened, where children have been interacting with each other and travelling on public transportation and so on, we want to ensure that they know what are the measures to take and enforce the infectioncontrol measures so that we can minimise any risk of persons contracting it and spreading it,” he said.

In May, the Ministry of Education mandated the wearing of masks in schools to limit the spread of COVID-19 until further notice. It also encouraged regular washing of hands and temperature checks.

“We have to ensure that we don’t take anything for granted. Everyone can contract monkeypox if we don’t take precautionary measures,” Bent said.

Jamaica recorded its first monkeypox case in July. Since then, the numbers have increased to 12, with five cases being reported between September 7 and 12.

Ten of the total cases were transmitted locally. Eight cases are active.

Monkeypox is transmitted through direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with the virus. Risk of contraction is increased with the touching of objects, fabrics, and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox. Infections may develop after contact with the respiratory secretions of someone with the virus.

The virus can also be transmitted through intimate contact. These include oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox. It can also be transmitted through hugging, massages, kissing, and prolonged face-to-face contact.

The SRHA, which covers St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon, is embarking on sensitisation campaigns in major towns today. Those towns include Junction, Santa Cruz, Christiana, Mandeville, May Pen, Chapelton, Spaldings, and Frankfield.

Community health aides and health education officers will be present in high-traffic areas handing out flyers and interfacing with the public.

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