Using COVID-19 measures to prevent the spread of monkeypox: South Africa's Health Ministry
Johannesburg, Jun 29: South Africa’s Health Ministry has urged citizens to remain more vigilant and announced a raft of measures similar to those imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic after the country reported the second case of the monkeypox viral disease.
On Tuesday, a 32-year-old male from Cape Town in the country’s Western Province, with no travel history, was reported to have been infected with the virus, suggesting the possibility of local transmission. South Africa reported the first case of monkeypox last week, also in a young male, with no travel history.
South Africa's Health Minister Joe Phaahla said in a statement on Tuesday that while the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not recommended any travel restrictions, it was important for travellers to endemic countries to alert health officials on the situation to enable them to provide guidance for case detection and management.
To implement these measures, port health officials continue as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic with multi-layered screening, which includes visual observation, temperature screening, and completion and analysis of travellers’ health questionnaires when entering the country through ports of entry (airports, border gates, and seaports) for early detection and successful treatment.
“The source and linkage of cases remain under investigation and the Department of Health is working with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases to constantly assess the risk for local transmission in collaboration with the WHO in line with the International Health Regulations,” the statement said.
“The health officials will continue with contact tracing while closely monitoring the situation and alert clinicians on symptoms to look for, and if the clinical picture fits with monkeypox, they are urged to complete case investigation form and send samples for testing,” it said. The minister also urged anyone with symptoms similar to monkeypox to report to their nearest healthcare facility for early detection and successful treatment.
“The department will keep the country abreast on the progress of contact tracing and surveillance activities,” it added. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently more than 4,300 cases of monkeypox globally, of which the majority are in Europe. Although the disease has been endemic in parts of Africa for decades, vaccines have not been used to stamp out previous outbreaks there.
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more serious illnesses may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body. Most people infected with monkeypox recover within weeks without needing medical care but the disease can be more severe in vulnerable populations, like pregnant women and children. The WHO decided last week not to declare monkeypox a global emergency, but has said it is working on a vaccine-sharing mechanism that some fear could see vaccines go to rich countries like the UK that already have their own stockpiles. PTI