Opposition calls for comprehensive contact tracing in monkeypox case
This file handout picture made available by the UK Health Security Agency on June 22, 2022 shows a collage of monkeypox rash lesions at an undisclosed date and location. The World Health Organization called on July 1, 2022 for urgent action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe, noting that cases had tripled there over the past two weeks.

IN the wake of health officials confirming the first case of monkeypox in the island Wednesday, Opposition spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy says, while there is no cause to panic, comprehensive contact tracing and isolation should be done to net all the individuals the infected traveller interacted with.

"We have been advised that the quarantine of those contacts has been in place, but what needs to be interrogated is what other places and environment the traveller went to prior to the symptoms developing. You can't only look at your family members who you live around, but you have to look at those he interfaced with in the community and elsewhere. So the Government has to ensure that the contact tracing and isolation of persons with whom that individual is in contact is adequately addressed," Dr Guy told the Jamaica Observer.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, making the announcement at an emergency press conference on Wednesday afternoon, said the patient, a male who recently travelled from the United Kingdom, presented to the public health system on July 5, having arrived in the island some five days earlier. He said the patient had been isolated while having confirmatory tests done as well as his close contacts quarantined following contact tracing which will continue, if necessary.

According to Dr Tufton, the island's emergency operation centre has been activated while a review of all isolation facilities is being carried out to gauge the capacity to manage both monkeypox and COVID-19.

But the Opposition spokesman chastised the health minister for being slow on the draw in this respect.

"You would recall that six weeks ago I urged the Government to put in place measures in the event that monkeypox reached Jamaica. I was disappointed to hear the minister at the emergency press conference say our isolation facilities are being looked at. I would have expected that it would have been done prior so that everything would go seamlessly," he said.

"It would seem now, based on how he presented, that nothing was done and now we are running around looking like chickens that have lost our heads. To say that the isolation facilities are now being looked into would seem to me and anyone else looking at him, that it is only now that it is here that they are going to be telling their head authority to prepare them. That is my major concern coming away from the press conference," Dr Guy said.

A surge in monkeypox cases has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

To date, more than 5,000 monkeypox cases have been reported from 53 countries worldwide that don't normally report the disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of monkeypox include skin rash, fever, headache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion and can last up to two to four weeks.

Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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