Health officials remind Carnival-going public that mass gatherings facilitate the spread of COVID-19 and monkey pox

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Ahead of several close-contact activities that form part of this year’s Carnival celebrations, residents are being advised not to go out if they are exhibiting signs of COVID-19 infection or the monkeypox virus.

Health officials are reminding the population that COVID-19 continues to be a threat to humans and that, since March of this year, the number of cases has increased in Antigua and Barbuda and globally.

Since the start of the festival there have been mass gatherings, which will continue until next Tuesday, August 2. These can facilitate the spread of COVID-19 and monkey pox, since they “are characterized by the concentration of people at different locations.”

They include public and private functions and may be either planned or spontaneous, according to officials.

People exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with monkey pox and COVID-19 disease should refrain from close contact – including sexual contact – with other persons; avoid attending gatherings; and follow the advice issued by the Ministry of Health.

Physical distancing; frequent hand-washing; using alcohol-based hand sanitizers; and wearing face masks are all being encouraged.

Officials are reminding the public that the monkeypox virus is spread by direct contact with the rash; through bodily fluids, such as pus or blood from skin lesions; scabs; and respiratory secretions. Clothing, sheets, towels and other objects can be sources of infection, as well.

The virus is also transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. Respiratory secretions can also be a source of infection.

Meanwhile, given the unusually hot weather conditions, the Ministry of Health has issued general guidelines for persons taking part in, or attending, Carnival events.

Persons are encouraged to stay hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water and to use sunscreen, which reduces the risk of developing skin cancer.

Alcohol should be taken only moderately to avoid becoming intoxicated. However, officials say that persons should always have a designated driver if they intend to consume large amounts.

Tobacco use and cannabis abuse should also be avoided.

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