Clint Chan Tack
HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is confident that Trinidad and Tobago is more than ready to deal with the monkeypox virus.
He made this declaration during the virtual covid19 news conference on Wednesday.
Noting that Guyana reported its first case of monkeypox on Monday, Deyalsingh said, “We can’t be any more vigilant than we are.”
In May, he continued, “I took a note to Cabinet to have Her Excellency (President Paula-Mae Weekes) declare monkeypox a dangerous infectious disease.”
This allowed the ministry to deal with monkeypox under the public health regulations and the Quarantine Act.
Deyalsingh said the Caura Hospital has been designated as a treatment and isolation centre for monkeypox patients.
He added, “We are making steps to get the (monkeypox) vaccine in.”
The public has also been advised of countries with confirmed monkeypox cases.
He reiterated, “It is difficult to be any more vigilant than we have been since May 20.”
Deyalsingh reiterated that 12 samples sent overseas to test for monkeypox have all returned negative. He was hopeful that a 13th sample now being tested would also prove negative.
He said the ministry had received correspondence from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is taking the lead role in negotiating with Bavarian Nordic, the only company worldwide that is manufacturing a monkeypox vaccine.
Deyalsingh explained, “Bavarian Nordic will not be negotiating with individual countries.They will be negotiating with PAHO, and individual countries in the Americas will go to PAHO (to procure their monkeypox vaccines). TT was one of the first countries to sign (for this).”
He said Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, is reviewing the documentation on procuring the vaccines.
The process will be the same one used to procure covid vaccines, Deyalsingh said.
There are 38,888 confirmed monkeypox cases in 93 countries to date. Europe constitutes 51 per cent of those cases. There are 48 cases in the Americas and there have been two deaths.
Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease, with the symptoms lasting from two-four weeks. It may be severe and lead to a range of medical complications. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around three-six per cent.
Typical symptoms are fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes.
Caused by monkeypox virus, the disease is spread to humans from animals and then from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
It occurs mainly in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but is occasionally exported elsewhere.
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