No need to panic as SA records 5th monkeypox case - minister

Minister of Health Joe Phaahla. File Photo

Minister of Health Joe Phaahla. File Photo

Published Aug 19, 2022


Pretoria - Health Minister Joe Phaahla said that there is no need to panic about monkeypox in the country as most cases were recorded from people who have a history of travelling outside the country and transmission of the disease is low.

“We encourage South Africans to be aware of the fact that monkeypox is in our midst, but at this stage, we have not found it to be endemic in the country. In other words, there is no local spread,” Phaahla said during an interview with eNCA on Friday.

Earlier, Phaahla confirmed that a fifth case of monkeypox has been recorded from 28-year-old man in Gauteng.

The man had recently travelled to the Netherlands and Spain.

Phaahla said all cases recorded have been associated with some form of travelling, although the first one wasn’t clear, but there are suspicions that the patient was in contact with someone who had travelled.

Phaahla said people can still travel if they want to because the cases recorded are few and far between.

“Even in other countries in Europe and Americas where there are significant numbers...transmission is very low because it requires direct contact with an infected person. It’s been four months now and there’s just over 28 000 worldwide cases.”

He added that the previous four patients who had contracted the disease have fully healed.

Phaahla said for now, there is no need for mass vaccination because the situation is under control.

“We are working with the vaccination ministerial advisory committee of experts and also following up with the SA health regulatory authority so that if a cases start to increase, we can then start to invite people who are at risk especially those with immunosuppression to come and get vaccinated.

“Vaccines are there, it’s just that at this stage there is no general access because it’s still limited, but we are working with authorities (to) become available through the correct channels.”

There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox in South Africa. There are currently three main vaccines in use worldwide for the prevention of monkeypox disease.

“These are ACAM2000, Jynneos – also branded as Imvanex in the European Union – and the third one is LC16m8 vaccine. Although none of them are registered in SA,” the minister earlier in the briefing.

According to the World Health Organization, 27 814 cases and 11 deaths have been reported in 89 countries/areas/territories across all six WHO regions since January 2022.