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:
In an exclusive phone interview with the Jamaica Observer, the Clarendon native who had migrated to the United Kingdom, said the statement about him breaking out of the hospital is false.
Local health authorities last week said he had tested positive for monkeypox. pic.twitter.com/kVXQanZZjE
— Jamaica Observer (@JamaicaObserver) July 10, 2022
One Twitter user mused:
So they made up the story about him jumping through a window to save face because they let him walk out?
— Gavin (@Goffeman) July 10, 2022
Capture of man who escape from May Pen hospital with Monkey 🐒 Pox pic.twitter.com/SWJ0cwhDbJ
— Medic (Kristoff) (@Owenpalmerems) July 10, 2022
Bwoy JA ever festive!! What was he thinking??🤦♀️🤷♀️😳
— Sheryl (@sherylg2k) July 9, 2022
God forbid but this nuh England. Ppl will hunt him dung and kill him. I think he was safer in hospital. This ain't Covid, monkey pox is visible.
— Renece Johnson (@JohnsonRenece) July 9, 2022
So what charges does he get for public engagement, the getaway driver too & anyone @ the house should get sumn for harbouring a vector. Everybody in isolation
— le Shroomz (@enigmatic876) July 9, 2022
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:
I think his home is better for him to stay. Sooner all later if we all have it our decision will be to stay home worse if ppl dying at hospitals
— @kai (@jewel_thereal) July 10, 2022
Sometimes even healthcare providers can be malicious.. especially in a case that is new. I wouldn't be surprised if he was being treated poorly by staff at the hospital. Anyways I hope he stays away from others and get better soon.
— Rushell Agyapong (@AgyapongRushell) July 9, 2022
Another had a theory about why the patient was not being monitored:
Yall better not come back with the DRMA law. How can a hospital not have this person under police guard? I already see the playbook. Yall gonna say unu powerless and petition govt to put in back drma so unu can get unu curfews and arrest without warning for mask etc again. End.
— Happy Jamaican (@happy_jamaican) July 9, 2022
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:
If you think there is only one case of MonkeyPox in Jamaica….think again.
— Conscious Man (@conradsimpson) July 9, 2022
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:
Seems he wanted to go to the carnival. Be safe peeps pic.twitter.com/mL5asB80Ss
— RangerBird (@RangerBirdy) July 9, 2022
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:
— Tejano D. Taylor🇯🇲 (@tejano_taylor) July 9, 2022
Fake news, which had to be quickly refuted by the Ministry of Health, also came into the picture:
— MOHW JA (@themohwgovjm) July 10, 2022
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?