‘We are monitoring this disease closely’, says Tourism Minister

Monkeypox is an illness caused by a viral pathogen (Photo courtesy CDC)
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By Carlena Knight

Tourism Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez has shared his concerns over the revelation of a possible first case of monkeypox in the Caribbean.

He revealed that Cabinet held discussions just last week following news coming out of The Bahamas of a possible case.

Fernandez added that after experiencing the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it had on the tourism industry, they are monitoring the situation closely and will take prerequisite measures if need be.

“Naturally, you figure well it is only a matter of time before it comes in. From what we have seen so far, there is no vaccine for it at this time, there is no real cure for it, but the good news is it is not as contagious as Covid, especially with the new variant that’s there,” Fernandez said.

“It is of concern to us of course,” he continued, “because what we have seen, and the kind of pressures and losses that we experienced through Covid that once you hear pandemic or possibility of pandemic, all the antennas go up, and the alarm bells start ringing, the concerns are there, and we are hustling to see what we need to put in place to stay ahead of the curve.

“It is a concern for us, and we are working really hard to monitor it and follow whatever we need to do to secure our industry and protect our people; we will be doing it,” he added.

With over 250 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox across 16 countries, doctors in Antigua and Barbuda have been warned to be vigilant, while residents are urged to seek assistance if they have symptoms.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas made the admonition late last month.

Monkeypox is a viral illness that is caused by a pathogen that exists in the same family of viruses as smallpox. Unlike in the case of smallpox, people with this ailment experience swollen lymph nodes about the body, including the neck, armpits and groin.

While this illness is less severe, people experience flu-like symptoms in the initial stages, including fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. A rash normally develops on the face and spreads to the rest of the body after one to three days.

The most notable symptom of the virus, which follows the first stage, is marked by the development of circular fluid-filled bumps – mainly on the hands, feet and face.

These itchy lesions that eventually crust over and fall off can last for two to four weeks, and could cause some level of scarring.

Although this is the largest outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa in some fifty years according to global reporting, it is not easily transmitted from person to person.

This is welcomed news for many as the world continues to grapple with the spread of the highly transmissible Sars-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

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