The Minister of Health, María Begoña Yarza, announced that a Sanitary Alert will be decreed throughout the country within the framework of the reinforcement of the surveillance and control of Monkeypox, which will take effect from its publication in the Official Gazette.

Chile map/CIA

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

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

Minister Yarza explained that the Health Alert provides instruments to respond in these cases. “These tools are many of them, administrative. They give both the national health authority and the regional health authority tools from the point of view of purchases, resources, and the organization of resources. It allows the use of health residences, it allows us to have personnel, to have tenders with greater opportunity. In other words, tools to make the response that we want to make more agile and more timely”, she pointed out.

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

“The health residences are going to make isolation devices. It will depend on the conditions of the people who carry this disease. In conditions that require hospital care, they will be isolated in hospital centers, but on those occasions, as has been the case up until now, when all the cases have been in very good condition, then we will use the health residences”, explained the Minister.

For his part, the Undersecretary of Public Health, Cristóbal Cuadrado, delved into the preparation that the Ministry of Health has developed in relation to the surveillance of this emerging disease.

“On May 23 we formed a team in which we also incorporated the Pan American Health Organization, along with technical teams and experts to analyze the response to monkeypox. Also, since May 27, the country has the diagnostic capacity to analyze PCR tests that allow confirming or ruling out cases. This, associated with the strengthening of all lines of surveillance, from instructions to the care network, case definitions, the strengthening of traceability capacity, specifically for this health condition by all seremías in the country, the establishment of reference hospitals and the possibility of health residences that are available throughout the country to allow isolation that is safe and in decent conditions for people,” he detailed.

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The authority also reported that to date, six cases of monkeypox have been registered in the country. To the three previously reported, three other cases that have contact with travelers or international travel history are added.

Mario Cruz, international adviser on Health Systems and Services for PAHO/WHO Chile, pointed out that for a month they have been accompanying our country’s preparation in this area. “We are pleased with all the progress that has been made, both in terms of detection, treatment, training of health personnel, prevention of infections, and the call made today for the Health Alert, which has a lot to do with improving the access to supplies and resources that are required to raise the level of surveillance that the country has”, he indicated.

Along with the above, Dr. Cruz explained that for now, the risk of Monkeypox is considered moderate and that “this risk assessment has to do not with the severity of the disease, but rather with the unusual behavior that occurs. is observing and this is related to the number of countries that are being affected and the number of cases that are being observed, which is a situation that had not been seen in the small outbreaks that had previously occurred in the world.”

Yasna Alarcón, Coordinator of the Emerging Infections Committee of the Chilean Society of Infectology, SOCHINF, said that they have collaborated with the Ministry of Health since the first cases were detected in the United Kingdom and took the opportunity to call people to consult in case of presenting symptoms associated with this disease. “The main symptoms with which it has manifested itself on this occasion have been through genital lesions on the skin, often painful, accompanied by inguinal nodes. Many times it is accompanied by fever and other general symptoms and with these types of symptoms it is very important to consult, ”she assured.

The expert also explained that this disease is transmitted skin to skin, if it is affected by injuries, by very close contact, but not by sharing a common space; and she added that “most cases evolve in a benign and not serious way. However, the period in which this can be transmitted is quite long, 21 days. And that is why the recommendation that these people go to a health residence is to prevent the virus from being transmitted to other people.”