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Saint Lucia has Brush with Monkeypox

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George

A crew member who travelled on a flight to Saint Lucia has tested positive for the monkeypox virus, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar George confirmed Monday. The contact tracing process has already begun.

According to Belmar-George, identified persons linked to the individual will be contacted by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, and placed in quarantine. They will be monitored over a twenty-one-day period.

“The Epidemiology Department within the Ministry of Health 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. The crew member did not disembark from the flight,” Belmar-George said.

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

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“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 Respiratory Hospital has assigned a dedicated ward exclusively for the care and management of anyone who receives a positive test result,” Belmar-George said.

No cases of monkeypox have been detected in Saint Lucia to date. However, as a precautionary measure, the Ministry 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.”

Anyone who has been exposed to the virus will be placed in quarantine and monitored by a Home Monitoring Team of clinicians, the Ministry stated.

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