Health & Wellbeing
CARIB | May 24, 2022

Caribbean nations on alert for monkeypox

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive” are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

As regional anxieties intensify over the monkeypox outbreak ravaging sections of the world, more Caribbean countries are going on high alert this week.

In Guyana, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Narine Singh issued a public health alert on Monday (May 23), advising physicians across the country to be vigilant.

Though Guyana is yet to confirm a case of monkeypox, Singh urged all relevant healthcare professionals to immediately notify the Ministry of Health once potential symptoms manifest in patients.

“Nothing is here as yet or anything, so it’s just for local physicians to keep aware. If they see any patients present with (symptoms) we might need to investigate it,” Singh advised regional health officers (RHOs), medical superintendents, senior medical officers and surveillance units in Guyana.

Another Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state not taking any chances is Trinidad and Tobago, which urged citizens who have travelled to countries where the monkeypox virus has been detected and “are symptomatic” to visit their nearest health provider.

The twin-island republic’s notice was issued last Friday.

More recently, across the Caribbean Sea, the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Jamaica, while not confirming a monkeypox case, indicated that current coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention protocols serve as a ‘good defence’ against the newest threat.

The outbreak of monkeypox cases outside of Africa can be contained, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, as more governments signalled they would launch limited vaccinations to combat rising infections of the virus.

The moves came as authorities investigated 237 suspected and confirmed cases of the virus in 19 countries since early May.

That number is expected to increase, WHO officials have said, but most of the infections so far have not been severe.

Scientists do not expect the outbreak to evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19, given the virus does not spread as easily as the coronavirus.

Monkeypox is a usually mild viral infection that is endemic in parts of west and central Africa.

It spreads chiefly through close contact and, until the recent outbreak, was rarely seen in other parts of the world, which is why the recent emergence of cases has raised alarms. The majority have been reported in Europe.

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