‘Ever festive’ Jamaica sees its index monkeypox patient flee state quarantine

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of monkeypox virus (orange) on the surface of infected VERO E6 cells (green). Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Photo by NIAID on Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

On July 9, three days after Jamaica's index case of monkeypox was announced, the patient fled state quarantine, with the Jamaica Gleaner, widely deemed the country's paper of record, reporting the man absconded through an open window, allegedly because he wanted to enjoy his vacation.

However, the patient has since refuted those allegations and accused Jamaica's public health officials of lying, claiming they were well aware of an arrangement — which he says they reneged on — for him to finish the remainder of his quarantine period at home since his five-year-old daughter, who travelled with him from England, has been under great distress being separated from him:

One Twitter user mused:

The patient also claimed he has been given no proof thus far of him having monkeypox. He was located on the evening of July 9 and taken back into state isolation:

Once the drama had resolved, social media users weighed in, with most people expressing incredulity at the man's behaviour:

Others sincerely hoped he “didn't do any harm.” Meanwhile, at least one Jamaican Twitter user felt he should be sent back to England, while another feared for the man's safety:

Many felt the consequences should be heavier than simply being readmitted to state quarantine:

The patient could reportedly face both jail time and fines up to 500,000 Jamaican dollars [about 3,325 United States dollars] for breaching the country's Quarantine Act.

There were some Jamaicans, however, who, questioning the quality of care in state hospitals, had no problem with the idea of home isolation:

Another had a theory about why the patient was not being monitored:

The “DRMA law” is the country's Disaster Risk Management Act, under which the government has the power to implement curfews, usually in disenfranchised communities. At different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, these types of curfews and lockdowns were used.

Meanwhile, this Twitter user suggested:

The patient was admitted to the public health system on July 5, having arrived in Jamaica five days prior, during which time he would have interacted with friends and family. Monkeypox spreads through close contact, either with infected animals, or from person to person, but there is currently no evidence to suggest that anyone else on the island has contracted the virus.

Naturally, there were some who used humour to deal with the situation:

Jamaica is currently in the midst of its annual Carnival celebrations, which typically attract large crowds of partygoers.

Another, referring to the patient's alleged means of departure, quipped:

Fake news, which had to be quickly refuted by the Ministry of Health, also came into the picture:

The question on everyone's minds, though, is what kinds of measures have been put in place to protect the population and avoid this type of breach from happening again?

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