The National Health Laboratory Service has confirmed that South Africa has its first case of monkeypox.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Thursday said the patient who tested positive for monkeypox was a 30-year-old man from Johannesburg who had no travel history.
Phaahla said monkeypox is usually a mild disease manifesting as blisters on the skin.
He explained it usually has a fatality rate of 1%.
“The disease has previously been reported in African countries, including Nigeria, Congo and Ghana in the early 2000s. The current outbreak is dominated by high numbers in Europe and cases have also been reported in the US and Canada. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is conducting online service training for our health workers to detect the disease so that the necessary laboratory tests can be done,” he said.
Phaahla added that the disease is only spread through close droplets, so you cannot get it by being in the same room with an infected person.
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While Phaahla announced the repeal of regulations on notifiable medical conditions dealing with Covid-19 and on monkeypox on Thursday, he said three of the four Covid-19 waves caused devastation in South Africa.
“On May 5, we published a limited set of regulations to provide a framework for mitigating against a spike in Covid-19 infections driven by subvariant BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron variant. In late April and most of May, there was a significant peak in daily infections across the country starting to drive increased admissions to hospitals and daily deaths reported.”
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Phaahla said by mid-June, the situation had taken a positive direction with a decline in daily cases, hospitalisation, positivity rate, reproductive numbers and reported deaths.
He added that having monitored the positive direction for over three weeks, they concluded that the peak infection was a limited fifth wave driven by subvariants and not a new variant of concern.
There was no imminent risk, he added:
“It was on this basis that we approached the National Coronavirus Command Council and the National Health Council, which is made up of all health MECs, to propose that the limited regulations, which dealt with wearing masks indoors, limitations of gatherings and vaccination proof or PCR negative tests at ports of entry, should all be lifted,” Phaahla said.
Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said Cabinet had welcomed the significant drop in Covid-19 infections and encouraged all eligible people to continue to vaccinate. He added that at least half of South Africa’s adult population had at least received one Covid-19 vaccination.
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Meanwhile, the NICD announced on Wednesday evening that there were 1 028 new Covid-19 cases that had been identified in South Africa, which brought the total number of laboratory confirmed cases to over 3.9 million.
The institute said the department of health reported 57 deaths and of these, six occurred in the past 24 hours. Most of new cases were from Gauteng followed by the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, while the Northern Cape accounted for 1% of today’s new cases.
The NICD further mentioned that there had been an increase of 37 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.