Monkeypox arrives in St Lucia via flight crew

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Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, Moses Jn Baptiste and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Sharon Belmar-George

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Epidemiology Department within the ministry of health, wellness and elderly affairs (MOH) received an alert by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a crew member on a flight which came into Saint Lucia and he has since tested positive for the monkeypox virus, announced Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Sharon Belmar-George.

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According to the MOH press release:

“The crew member did not disembark from the flight. As obtained with infectious diseases, the required contact tracing process is currently being undertaken by the contact tracing team within the ministry of health. All identified contacts of the case shall be contacted by the ministry of health and placed in quarantine and monitored over a 21-day period.”

However, experts query why the entire flight was not returned to its destination? Given Saint Lucia’s medical inability to deal with monkeypox? Why taxi drivers/immigration and customs officers were seemingly unaware; and why passengers on this aircraft were allowed to continue to their destination/hotel?

Moreover, has the MOH potentially exposed the wider public to monkeypox? asserting: 

“Any person exposed to monkeypox shall be placed in quarantine and monitored by the home monitoring team of clinicians. The capacity for testing for the monkeypox virus exists within the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and as such, samples will be taken from any individual who exhibits symptoms while in quarantine/isolation and shall be sent directly to CARPHA for testing.”

A social media commentator noted: “Monkeypox en route to St Lucia. Just in time to spread for Carnival.”

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In addition, the MOH in an unconvincing press release Monday, said:

 “With the significant increase in the number of cases of monkeypox which have been confirmed globally in recent weeks, Saint Lucia has strengthened the capacity to manage individuals who are either suspect or confirmed cases. The protocols which are in place for COVID-19 have been modified to allow for the management of monkeypox.”

The management of monkeypox is done by treating symptoms and there is the capacity in-country to effectively undertake this. The public is reminded that monkeypox has not been confirmed in Saint Lucia to date, says CMO.

“The Victoria Hospital has assigned a dedicated ward exclusively for the care and management of anyone who receives a positive test result” adding “as a precautionary measure, the ministry of health requests that anyone with a recent travel history to self-monitor for the onset of flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, headache and muscle ache. If any of these symptoms are observed, it is necessary to seek medical attention immediately,” says MOH.

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