Ministry matters

Ministry of Health refutes allegations of monkeypox cases in Antigua and Barbuda

Monkeypox is a disease caused by a viral pathogen (Photo courtesy CDC)

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The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Environment would like to state that, contrary to social media posts, there are no confirmed cases of monkeypox in Antigua and Barbuda. The ministry is outraged that anyone is spreading false information suggesting the presence of monkeypox in the twin island state. This act became even more egregious when it was established that the perpetrator is a current employee of the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre. We strongly condemn any such act that causes public concern and distress.

We urge all members of the public to be responsible at all times in the dissemination of information and to refrain from spreading false information that undermines our public health system. All laboratory investigations for suspected monkeypox cases have been negative at both the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Sir Lester Bird Medical Center which started monkeypox testing last week. We therefore reiterate that THERE ARE NO CONFIRMED CASES OF MONKEYPOX IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA.

Rest assured that if and when a case of monkeypox is confirmed, the Department of Health, Welfare and Environment will promptly report this information to the public. This is consistent with the Department’s commitment to transparency, particularly in public health, as demonstrated in the past.

In the meantime, the public is reminded that monkeypox is a viral disease characterized by fever, enlarged lymph nodes and a rash. Monkeypox is spread from person to person through direct contact with the rash, body fluids (fluid, pus, or blood from broken skin), and scabs. Clothing, sheets, towels and other objects can also be a source of infection. The virus is also transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. Physicians are reminded to report any suspected cases of monkeypox to the MOHWE Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. However, the public is advised that social and physical distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing face masks can prevent infection. It is therefore strongly advised that people practice these health and social measures to avoid being infected.

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