‘Monkeypox passengers of interest placed in quarantine’, says St Lucia’s ministry of health

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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 – Following monkeypox arrival in Saint Lucia via flight crew and a seemingly botch operational handling of public health basic adherence, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a volte-face that, “ passengers of interest on a flight arriving into Saint Lucia, have been placed in quarantine.”

The volte-face by the MOH, comes in the wake of previous concerns by experts who queried: “Why the entire flight was not returned to its destination, given Saint Lucia’s medical inability to deal with monkeypox? And why taxi drivers/immigration and customs officers were seemingly unaware; and why passengers on this aircraft were allowed to continue to their destination/hotel?

The MOH update on the monkeypox situation, Wednesday, June 29, 2022, albeit leaving out much pertinent information about the flight crew, the source of the monkeypox, the aircraft, etc,. again left little to be considered.

According to the MOH press release:

“Based on the recent situation of a crew member on a flight arriving into Saint Lucia and testing positive for the monkeypox virus, the epidemiology department within the ministry of health, wellness and elderly affairs has undertaken the required contact tracing process and placed all passengers of interest in quarantine.”

The previously described volte-face by the MOH advised that: “Currently, these individuals are being monitored for a 21- day period with the support from the Home Monitoring Team of clinicians” and reaffirmed that “to date, the monkeypox virus has not been confirmed in Saint Lucia.”

Monkeypox arrives in St Lucia via flight crew

In a previous release the MOH said:

“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.”

The MOH press release on June 29, 2022, said:

“The Ezra Long Lab has received reagents and test kits to facilitate in-country testing of monkeypox. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) provided training to the lab staff to build their capacity for testing in-country.”

Meanwhile, the MOH noted that it “ will continue to provide the public will updates as soon as this information is available, pointed out that: “In an effort to manage the monitoring of individuals in quarantine and provide hospital care, the Victoria Hospital has an assigned and dedicated ward. The monkeypox virus is managed by treating the symptoms.”

However, said the MOH:

As the ministry of health prepares for its response to the monkeypox situation, a series of briefings and discussions have been undertaken with the public health and primary care team within the ministry and secondary care health institutions. In the coming days, the ministry of health will be undertaking engagements with stakeholders within the health sector, both public and private and also the tourism sector.”

And while 11 Carnivals bands have registered for this year’s parade “Nothing sweeter than that ” the MOH said: “Currently, all protocols are being reviewed and updated to assist with the management of the monkeypox virus.”

And relative to COVID-19, Thursday June 30, 2022, “a total of 54, 309 individuals have been fully vaccinated. Another 5, 293 are partially vaccinated and 7, 602 have received their booster shot.”

Curiously, the MOH continued:

“As the ministry of health continues to monitor the monkeypox situation, it is requested that anyone with a recent travel history to self-monitor for the onset of flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, headache and muscle ache, “ adding “ If any of these symptoms are observed, it is necessary that the individual seeks medical attention immediately.”

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