St Lucia to increase Monkeypox surveillance after airline crew member tests positive
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Monkeypox, a disease that rarely appears outside Africa, has been identified by European and American health authorities in recent days. (Photo: AP)

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) – Health authorities in St Lucia have increased surveillance for Monkeypox after being alerted that a crew member on a flight to the island has since tested positive for the virus.

However, according to the officials, the individual did not disembark the aircraft when it arrived.

A statement issued Monday by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs disclosed that the Epidemiology Department was alerted to the situation by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“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,” it said.

The ministry added that with the significant increase in the number of cases of Monkeypox confirmed globally in recent weeks, St Lucia has strengthened the capacity to manage individuals who are either suspect or confirmed cases.

It said the protocols that are in place for COVID-19 have been modified to allow for the management of Monkeypox.

“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,” the Health Ministry said.

It added that Victoria Hospital has assigned a dedicated ward exclusively for the care and management of anyone who receives a positive test result.

The management of Monkeypox is done by treating symptoms and there is the capacity in-country to effectively undertake this, the Ministry added.

According to the World Health Organization’s latest report, there are over 2,100 confirmed cases globally, and at least one person has died.

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