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GHA confirms first case of monkeypox in Gibraltar

St Bernard's Hospital. Photo by Eyleen Gomez.

The GHA has confirmed that a case of monkeypox has been detected in Gibraltar.

The individual is a resident of Spain who works in Gibraltar and who presented at St Bernard’s Hospital, where they were immediately isolated and assessed in line with the GHA’s monkeypox procedure.

According to the GHA, the individual’s only known close contact is also a Spanish national who works in Gibraltar.

Gibraltar’s monkeypox response preparations have been underway since the outbreak was announced by the World Health Organisation in early May.

A group of senior members of the GHA at St Bernard’s Hospital, chaired by the Director General Professor Patrick Geoghegan, met on Thursday May 26 to rehearse the process for receiving and managing cases and a further GHA Operational Group met on Friday May 27.

A Strategic Coordination Group, chaired by the Minister for Civil Contingencies, met yesterday, on Tuesday May 31, at No.6 Convent Place to review Gibraltar’s preparations to date and agree next steps in escalating its response.

This was arranged last week for planning purposes on advice of the Director of Public Health and the meeting took place yesterday afternoon prior to the confirmation of the positive case.

The GHA said it was ready to respond and manage monkeypox cases, adding procedures are in place ready to be implemented if further cases are identified.

The Director of Public Health advised that monkeypox is a rare disease that commonly causes fever - over 37.9 degrees - and swollen glands, followed by a skin rash with blisters and scabs.

The illness is usually mild and most people recover in three to four weeks.

However for a minority of people the illness is more severe so it is important that anyone with symptoms calls 111 (or 200 72266 from a phone outside Gibraltar).

People should not attend A&E if they suspect that they are experiencing symptoms of Monkeypox.

Instead they should call 111, where the GHA will be able to assess the symptoms and send a mobile team to their home if necessary.

People should look out for symptoms including fever, swollen glands and skin rashes with blisters and scabs.

The virus is transmitted from person to person by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

The Director of Public Health (locum), Dr Jackie Hyland, said: “Monkeypox is a self-limiting illness and most people recover within several weeks.”

“Most cases, although unpleasant, can be managed at home with no need for hospitalisation.”

“The GHA already has plans in place for mobile teams to support individuals at home if the need arises.”

“Monkeypox is also relatively difficult to transmit, and can only spread from person to person by close contact with a symptomatic individual or their clothing or bedding.”

“At the moment, there is no requirement for the public to take extraordinary measures, except to be aware of the symptoms and to call 111 for advice if they suspect that they are experiencing these symptoms.”

“As with many other viruses, good hygiene and regular handwashing help to prevent transmission.”

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