Health officials are investigating what could be the country’s first case of monkeypox.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Kenneth George on Tuesday disclosed to Barbados TODAY that he was aware of a suspected case of the disease, in which a Barbadian male presented with signs of lesions on his body.
“I am aware of the case and we are doing all the testing that is necessary. Appropriate samples have been taken,” he said. “There is no travel history and the patient has been placed in isolation out of an abundance of caution.”
Barbados TODAY understands that the man was tested on Tuesday and the sample was sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for confirmation.
Meanwhile, authorities are undertaking a “full” review of the public health procedures as they express concern over the spread of Monkeypox in the country’s tourism source markets.
In an earlier interview, Dr George indicated that the review would cover the entire public service.
“We are actually having a full review with all persons working across the public sector on awareness and sensitisation, the symptoms, the signs, the clinical presentation, surveillance and epidemiology, “ he told Barbados TODAY.
The CMO said that Barbados had sent a “couple” samples to CARPHA for testing and they came back negative.
“Two or three cases were presented with a rash, but all those samples came back negative. We continue to monitor the situation,” he said.
“My advice to the population is to be very observant. Be careful about the persons you mix with. If the person has a rash, you should try to stay away from that individual because if you are exposed you would be required to be quarantined and quarantine is up to 21 days as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Even if we had a case here in Barbados, it can be managed,” he assured.
Dr George contended that while it was not possible to prevent diseases from coming through the island’s ports of entry, measures could be adopted to reduce the risks and lower the level of imported illnesses.
“COVID has told us that you cannot prevent a viral illness from coming through your ports of entry. Nonetheless, we think it is absolutely critical to apprise the port health workers to make sure that if a case comes across, they can identify it early, visually, and respond and put them in the appropriate care,” the government’s top medical advisor said.
“Enhanced surveillance at the ports will continue, but there is no physical barrier to prevent persons from traveling with the disease. Frequently, the skin lesions might be covered by a type of layer and then there is always the issue that the incubation period where the disease is being developed has no outward signs or symptoms, and actually, during incubation period people could be infected.
“We are working with all port health and general public health [personnel] to sensitise them with respect to putting a barrier at the airport,” Dr George assured.
However, he advised against the country shifting its focus from COVID-19 to monkeypox.
“Monkeypox is not a highly contagious or infectious disease. You need to be intimate with an individual, you can’t get it from casual contact. The disease is effectively transmitted if you have prolonged intimate contact with an individual,” the top public health official maintained.