Good evening, I wish to assure Barbadians that the Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to pay very close attention to the global outbreak of Monkeypox.
From the time this new threat to global health emerged, the Ministry of Health and Wellness swung into action by taking the very important step of sensitizing our public health professionals who are responsible for public health management.
Let me assure the public that the Ministry of Health and Wellness is fully prepared to handle any cases of monkeypox in our nation. In addition, the Ministry’s Port Health staff will continue to conduct public health surveillance at our ports of entry.
The Ministry’s public health team is well trained on surveillance and detection, and as has occurred in the past when faced with any global outbreaks of infectious diseases, this team will continue to monitor our borders and protect public health in Barbados.
Please be aware that any travellers arriving at any of our ports with any pox symptoms will be assessed and investigated accordingly.
Our state of readiness will also involve sensitizing those workers who help us to maintain border control, such as Immigration, Customs, Barbados Port Inc., Grantley Adams International Airport, and others who perform a critical role at our ports of entry.
Monkeypox is rare disease caused by infection with the Monkeypox virus and is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Monkeypox can be contracted through close intimate contact of an infected person. The symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
I wish to assure the public that the Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to take all necessary precautionary steps to minimise the risk of any disease outbreak in Barbados including monkeypox.
There are no vaccines available in Barbados for Monkeypox. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that mass vaccination is not required nor recommended for Monkeypox at this time.
Human-to-human spread of Monkeypox can be controlled by public health measures, including early case findings, diagnosis and care, isolation and contact tracing.
The absence of vaccines should not cause undue alarm since monkeypox is rarely fatal. The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to follow the WHO guidance as part of the global response.
Any persons presenting pox symptoms will be clinically assessed, and swabs may be taken for testing, and the patient would be required to isolate as a risk mitigation measure.
The Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory recently acquired the capacity to do the diagnostic test for Monkeypox and will therefore be conducting tests locally on any suspected cases. This ability by Best-dos Santos is a major accomplishment of which the Barbados health service can be justifiably proud and should be a source of comfort to all Barbadians.
For full disclosure, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will update the public on the results of the one sample which was sent to the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory. Samples from two previously suspected cases were sent for testing at the CAPRHA laboratory in Trinidad. Those results were negative.
To date, there have been no confirmed cases of Monkeypox in Barbados. The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to maintain transparency whilst adhering to patient confidentiality.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill