Chile: the Ministry of Health decrees a health alert for monkeypox

The Minister of Health, María Begoña Yarza, has announced that a health alert will be decreed throughout the country as part of the strengthening of surveillance and control of Monkeypox, which will take effect as soon as it is published in the Official Gazette.

Map of Chile/CIA

“We have reinforced this surveillance with an ad hoc register, the declaration of the disease is immediate, we have a system for the immediate registration of suspected cases, but in addition to having identified this and having a follow-up program for cases , we think the time has come for us to use other tools,” the authority explained.

The measure grants extraordinary powers to the health authority to prevent the spread of a disease and applies in the event of a threat of an epidemic or an emergency involving a serious risk to the health or life of the inhabitants. It will be valid until September 30, 2022, without prejudice to the authority which has the power to terminate it early or to extend it, as indicated by the health conditions.

Minister Yarza explained that the health alert provides instruments to respond to these cases. “These tools are numerous, administrative. They give both the national health authority and the regional health authority tools from a procurement, resource and resource organization perspective. This allows the use of health residences, it allows us to have staff, to have calls for tenders with more opportunities. In other words, tools to make the response we want to make more agile and faster,” she stressed.

In this sense, for example, the regional authority can establish the isolation of cases or people suspected of being infected with Monkeypox and have sanitary residences for this.

“The health residences will manufacture isolation devices. This will depend on the conditions of the people carrying this disease. In conditions requiring hospital care, they will be isolated in hospital centers, but on those occasions, as has been the case so far, when all cases have been in very good condition, we will then use health residences “, explained the minister.

For his part, the Undersecretary of Public Health, Cristóbal Cuadrado, looked at the preparation that the Ministry of Health has developed with regard to the surveillance of this emerging disease.

“On May 23, we formed a team in which we also integrated the Pan American Health Organization, as well as technical teams and experts to analyze the response to monkeypox. In addition, since May 27, the country has had the diagnostic capacity to analyze PCR tests that confirm or rule out cases. This, together with the strengthening of all lines of surveillance, from instructions to the care network, to case definitions, to the strengthening of traceability capacity, specifically for this health condition by all seremías of the country, to the creation of reference hospitals and the possibility of health care residences available throughout the country to allow safe isolation and in decent conditions for people, ”he detailed.

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The authority also reported that so far six cases of monkeypox have been recorded in the country. To the three previously reported, there are three other cases that have had contact with travelers or a history of international travel.

Mario Cruz, International Advisor on Health Systems and Services for PAHO/WHO Chile, pointed out that for a month they have been accompanying the preparation of our country in this area. “We welcome all the progress that has been made, both in terms of detection, treatment, training of health personnel, prevention of infections, and the call launched today for the health alert, which has a lot to do with improving access to the supplies and resources needed to raise the level of surveillance the country has,” he said.

Along with the above, Dr. Cruz explained that at this time the risk of Monkeypox is considered moderate and that “this risk assessment does not have to do with the severity of the disease, but rather with the behavior unusual that is observed and this is related to the number of countries that are affected and the number of cases that are observed, which is a situation that had not been observed during the small epidemics that had occurred before in the world.

Yasna Alarcón, coordinator of the Emerging Infections Committee of the Chilean Society of Infectiology, SOCHINF, said she had worked with the Ministry of Health since the first cases were detected in the UK and took the opportunity to call on people to consult in case of presenting symptoms associated with this disease. “The main symptoms with which it manifested on this occasion were genital lesions on the skin, often painful, accompanied by inguinal glands. Often it is accompanied by fever and other general symptoms and with this type of symptoms, it is very important to consult, ”she said.

The expert also explained that this disease is transmitted from skin to skin, if affected by wounds, by very close contact, but not by sharing a common space; and she added that “most cases progress in a mild and non-serious way. However, the period during which this can be transmitted is quite long, 21 days. And that is why the recommendation for these people to go to a nursing home is to prevent the virus from spreading to other people.