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Health Minister says it is a challenge to identify Monkeypox at ports of entry


Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

The Ministry of Health has stationed officials to look out for Monkeypox at ports of entry, but notes it is still a challenge trying to ensure no one carrying the virus gains entry.


Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony says it is possible for persons to pass through the airports and enter Guyana during the incubation period of the Monkeypox virus, but not develop rashes until later on when they are already in the country.


The incubation period is the interval from when someone becomes infected to the onset of symptoms. For Monkeypox this is typically from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.


The Minister noted that while airport staff has been sensitised, Ministry officials are also stationed at ports of entry.


“You know at each one of the ports of entry we do have staff from the ministry that is assigned to these ports of entry and we have sensitised them to these signs and symptoms of Monkeypox. It’s not a very sensitive method in terms of detection because someone can be infected with Monkeypox and come through the airport during the incubation period.”


The virus is only transmissible while rashes are visible on an infected person. It is no longer transmissible when lesions have scabbed over and healed.


Transmission occurs through contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects.


The Minister does note there has been a global decline in the number of cases.


The World Health Organisation declared the number of Monkeypox cases reported globally declined by 21% a few weeks ago, after a month-long trend of rising infections.


There have been 62,406 cases since the WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency in July.


Minister Anthony said, “While we are on alert, it is very difficult to detect persons unless they have rashes or so forth. But nevertheless we have that mechanism in place and people have been trained to ask questions and so forth.”


Symptoms to watch out for are fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headaches and respiratory symptoms which may be experienced either before or after the rash appears, according to the CDC.


Recommended precautions include avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact or physical intimacy with people who have a rash resembling Monkeypox patients, avoiding contact with objects and materials that a person with Monkeypox has used and frequent hand washing.


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