Kingston – Health & Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton confirmed on Wednesday that Jamaica had recorded its first case of the monkeypox virus.
He told a news conference that the patient is a male who recently travelled from the United Kingdom and visited a public health facility on Tuesday, having arrived in the island about five days earlier.
Tufton said the unidentified patient was isolated while having confirmatory tests done and his close contacts quarantined following contact tracing, which will continue if necessary.
The Health & Wellness Minister said that the confirmation of the case triggered Jamaica’s emergency protocols in line with international health regulation guidelines.
“Among other things our emergency operation centre has been activated,” he said. “A review of all isolation facilities is to be done to look at the capacity to manage both Monkeypox and COVID-19.”
Symptoms of monkeypox include skin rash, fever, headache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion, and can last up to two to four weeks.
A surge in monkeypox cases has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the monkeypox virus as an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar, but less severe, to smallpox.
It said while smallpox was eradicated in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in countries of Central and West Africa.
The WHO said that most people recover fully without treatment, but in some cases people can get seriously ill.
To date, more than 5 000 monkeypox cases have been reported from 53 countries worldwide that do not normally report the disease, according to the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.