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Friday, 24 June 2022 12:14

SAMA urges public to be vigilant as first monkeypox case reported.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has recommended vigilance among its members and the public after the discovery of the first monkeypox case in South Africa on Thursday.

While the case has been confirmed in Gauteng, SAMA cautioned other provinces to be on the lookout for the virus.

According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), the case reported in South Africa involves a 30-year-old male with no recent travel history.

In a statement, SAMA said the virus is transmitted through person-to-person close, direct contact with infected person/s or contaminated materials (e.g. bed linen, clothes and other household items).

"The virus is said to be not highly transmissible, unlike the influenza or SARS-CoV-2 virus. The symptoms to look out for are acute illness typified by fever, general flu-like symptoms, followed by blister-like rash on the skin and/or swelling of the lymph nodes.

"It is also noted that the disease is rarely fatal. Cases can resolve within two to four weeks. Isolation of cases is recommended to limit the spread of infection," SAMA said.

SAMA further recommends that its members exercise vigilance and is in support of the adoption of contact tracing and monitoring of the cases, as per the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NICD.

WHO and the NICD do not recommend embarking on a vaccination programme for monkeypox, however, the NICD has published a contact tracing procedure for monkeypox which can be accessed here:

Meanwhile, SAMA has welcomed the repeal of the COVID-19 regulations by the Minister of Health and further recognises that there has been a decline in hospitalisation and reported cases of COVID-19 in the country.

SAMA said that the recent COVID-19 statistics clearly demonstrates the extent of the impact of the pandemic.

"SAMA welcomes the removal of the regulation measures as they pertain to the wearing of masks indoors, the number of gatherings and international travel entry. SAMA notes that the virus is still present, though not as prevalent. SAMA members as they are in the forefront of the health system are however faced with patients who may or may not present symptoms of the virus and other viral diseases, "SAMA said.

SAMA stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a 'No Regret Policy' when it comes to taking measures to protect patients and healthcare professionals during COVID-19.

The Occupational Health Act of 2003 also requires the employer to bring about and maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health of workers in the delivery of health services.

Due to the close proximity between healthcare workers, patients and/or patient biological materials, SAMA has urged its members to continue to observe non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 measures in all healthcare settings.

"This includes the continued wearing of face masks and implementation of sanitisation measures for patients and healthcare professionals in medical settings. The wearing of face masks for patients and healthcare workers who are symptomatic should become the norm beyond the health care facilities," SAMA said.

SAMA maintains that vaccination is still the most powerful weapon that society has against COVID-19.