Saint Lucia’s Minister of Health, Wellness & Elderly Affairs has underscored the need for increased monkeypox vigilance after six suspected cases of the virus recently tested negative.
“This does not mean that we are out of the woods. We need to be even more vigilant,” Moses Jn Baptiste told reporters on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Cabinet.
In this regard, the Minister recalled that Barbados and Martinique had reported monkeypox cases.
He disclosed that Saint Lucia has started training Ezra Long Laboratory and Health Ministry staff and prepared the Respiratory Hospital to ensure an isolation unit if needed.
In addition, Jn Baptiste said Saint Lucia continues to strengthen its systems.
The Vieux Fort North MP told reporters that this country’s experience with COVID-19 would help the authorities to deal with any possible monkeypox cases.
“We have systems in place and we continue to strengthen these systems,” the Health Minister declared.
And he recalled that when the authorities suspected the six cases, the people were quickly isolated and tested.
As a result, he explained that the systems are in place and ready.
“Certainly if we have an overwhelming number of COVID or Monkeypox cases, God forbid we don’t expect that, but certainly if we have an overwhelming number we will have to review our systems,” he stated.
Jn Baptiste recalled that Saint Lucia had received a 40-bed field hospital from the United States and continues to do surveillance and monitoring.
And he urged people to be responsible and visit a doctor if they have any symptoms.
“Take every precaution not only with monkeypox but to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the Minister urged.
On July 23, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the escalating global monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
In making the declaration, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that for the moment, the monkeypox outbreak was concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those who have multiple partners.
“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right right groups,” he explained.