Tufton urges calm as monkeypox detected in Jamaica

July 07, 2022
A number of lesions on the skin of a person who is infected with monkeypox.
A number of lesions on the skin of a person who is infected with monkeypox.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says that his ministry is not considering COVID-type lockdown measures to contain the spread of the monkeypox virus which he confirmed to be in Jamaica yesterday.

"I am confident that given the nature of the virus and given what has transpired globally to date, discovering one case doesn't make or create a crisis. It certainly creates a concern and indeed we did expect that given the presence of the monkeypox disease on the global landscape, given the openness of our country -- we travel a lot for business or otherwise -- that there was always the possibility of a case or two turning up here," Tufton said, while urging citizens to take responsibility for their own well-being.

"Having said that, we do believe that we have the capacity to respond and particularly if Jamaicans play their part, and so I do not envision the kind of response to the novel coronavirus when it came in March 2020. I believe that we can manage this current threat and if we play our part, we can manage it in a way where we can continue to live our normal existence and go about our business whether play or otherwise," he said. "God knows the country cannot deal with another extremity. We have enough side effects up to this point from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not only going to pray and ask God for guidance, we are also going to work and ensure that kind of guidance is taken advantage of by ourselves and the role that we play."

Tufton, who was speaking at an emergency press conference at the ministry's office in New Kingston, said that the case is a man who recently returned to Jamaica from the United Kingdom. He said the man went to the public health system on July 5 after arriving on the island five days earlier. Tufton also disclosed that the patient has been isolated and his close contacts are in quarantine.

According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks. Traditionally, it is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected animal or person or with material contaminated with the virus. Symptoms include fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes. Jamaica's Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said that monkeypox is not easily transmitted and requires close and prolonged contact for transmission to occur.

"The other thing is that you have the visual. Unlike COVID, you see the rash although we are having some cases now that are a little atypical in their presentation, but you do have that visual effect," she said. Bisasor-McKenzie said that in order to break transmission, persons displaying symptoms should isolate themselves.

"Because it is not very easily transmitted, if we just do that then we are able to prevent the spread here and remove the possibility of it becoming an endemic here in Jamaica," she said.

- R.M.

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