South Africa: Monkeypox Outbreak Cause of Concern


While monkeypox is considered “low risk” in South Africa, the Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla says the high number of confirmed positive cases is becoming a cause for concern.

Monkeypox Outbreak, This comes as the Minister announced the country’s fifth monkeypox case during a media briefing on Friday. According to Phaahla, the latest patient is a 28-year-old man from Johannesburg with a travel history to the Netherlands and Spain. This means the country has recorded five positive cases between 22 June and 17 August 2022. “Although monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and COVID-19, and causes less severe illness, the current rising number of confirmed positive cases is becoming a cause for concern and cannot be taken for granted,” he told the media. Data shows that the first two cases recorded in June had no recent travel, while the third one was a tourist from Switzerland and has since fully recovered and returned home. “There is no link between the first four cases, while the team is trying to establish if there is a link between the fourth and fifth cases since both of them have been to the same country, Spain, which has so far recorded over 5 000 positive cases and two deaths.”

On 23 July 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the current monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. According to the Minister, South Africa never recorded positive monkeypox cases before June 2022. “While the WHO has not recommended any travel restrictions, it is important for travellers to endemic countries to alert health officials on the situation to enable them to guide case detection and management.” Phaahla said there was no specific vaccine for monkeypox in South Africa, while there are currently three in use worldwide for the prevention of this viral disease, which none are registered locally. According to the Minister, South Africa stopped vaccination for smallpox, which is similar to monkeypox, when the global immunisation campaign ended due to the successful eradication of smallpox. Since then, there have been no smallpox vaccines offered to the general population.”

However, according to Phaahla, most people over the age of 40 will have some immunity to monkeypox from their smallpox vaccinations. Minister Phaahla said there are currently 28 000 reported cases of monkeypox cases worldwide and 11 deaths worldwide. Meanwhile, the WHO’s latest data shows that the cases have now topped 35 000. “The scientists have advised that at the current moment, there is no need for mass vaccination because the situation is under control.” However, he said port health officials are continuing with screening measures, including visual observation, temperature screening and analysis of travellers’ health questionnaires at the ports of entry.

Source: This news is originally published by allafrica



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