The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment (MOHWE) has issued the following public health advice for gatherings during Carnival 2022.

Introduction
COVID-19 continues to be a pandemic and a threat to humans. Since March 2022, the number of cases has increased globally and in Antigua and Barbuda.

There have also been a number of variants that increase transmissibility, serious disease, hospitalizations and deaths. In addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox disease a public health emergency of international concern.

The current carnival celebrations in Antigua and Barbuda include mass gatherings that can facilitate the spread of COVID-19 and monkeypox in the twin island state.

These gatherings are characterized by the concentration of people at different locations. They include public and private functions and may be both planned and spontaneous.

These guidelines are intended to provide information and advice to the general public on measures that can be taken to reduce transmission and subsequent infection, illness and deaths from COVID-19 disease and monkeypox during Carnival 2022.

Monkeypox and COVID-19 Risks During Carnival 2022

COVID-19 Transmission
The COVID-19 virus, SARS CoV-2 is directly transmitted between persons from respiratory droplets. The virus can also remain on surfaces and inanimate objects that can serve as sources of infection.

Monkeypox Transmission
The monkeypox virus is spread from person to person by direct contact with the rash, bodily fluids (fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions), and scabs. Clothing, sheets, towels and other objects can also be sources of infection.

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

Monkeypox and COVID-19 Disease Prevention During Carnival 2022

People with signs and symptoms consistent with Monkeypox and COVID-19 disease should:
o Refrain from close contact with any other individuals;
o Avoid attending gatherings;
o Follow the advice issued by the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment.

• Close contact with someone who has signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be avoided.
• Persons are encouraged to practice physical distancing.
• There should be frequent handwashing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• The wearing of face masks is encouraged.

General Advice
• Persons are encouraged to stay hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water.
• Alcohol should be used in moderation.
o Avoid the excessive use of alcohol and intoxication.
o Always have a designated driver if you intend to consume large amounts of alcohol.
• Avoid tobacco use and cannabis abuse.
• Please use sunscreen since this reduces your risk of developing skin cancer.