Home South African Mpox preparedness plan implemented at SA borders

Mpox preparedness plan implemented at SA borders

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Thirteen cases of Mpox, previously known as Monkeypox, have been confirmed in South Africa, including two deaths.

Hands and forearms with Mpox lesions. File picture

THE BORDER Management Authority (BMA) said it was implementing screening processes for travellers entering the country at all ports of entry after 13 cases of Mpox were confirmed by the National Department of Health.

BMA commissioner Michael Masiapato announced on Tuesday that BMA port health officials had developed an outbreak preparedness plan that outlined the response to dealing with Mpox.

“The current response plan has been activated to respond since 13 cases have been confirmed by the National Department of Health,” said the authority.

It was reported on Monday that, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, there were 20 suspected cases of Mpox in Gauteng and that the Department of Health was awaiting results from laboratory tests.

Last week, the department reported that the country’s cases had climbed, with seven cases being confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal, five in Gauteng and one in the Western Cape. There have been two confirmed deaths.

The BMA said it was implementing screening processes for travellers entering the country at all ports of entry.

Masiapato said that at the airports, the first phase of screening occurred when the conveyance operator, who was the captain of the aircraft, and crew members provided a general declaration of health.

He said the document was required to be completed by all conveyance operators whereby they declared that no travellers had reported or were found to be ill on board, in line with international health regulations.

Travellers were then subjected to thermal screening to check their temperature.

“This screening of temperature is implemented at land and seaports as well. Should the traveller present with an elevated temperature, such traveller will be isolated and assisted with further screening. This will involve interviews to establish the experience of other symptoms,” Masiapato said, adding that the BMA Port health officers would also conduct their own general and non-invasive observation of the traveller under investigation.

Masiapato said BMA port health officers were well trained to be vigilant about lesions and other symptoms during their operations at the ports.

“In any incident, should there be a case presented to the BMA that would need further referral to a health facility, arrangements have been made with ambulance services from the Department of Health for referral to health-care facilities.

“We are also in close collaboration with the communicable disease facilities in the districts in order to respond swiftly and ensure immediate reporting of any suspected traveller that meets the Mpox disease symptom profile.”

The commissioner said BMA Port health officials were also focusing on health education and awareness.

“At this stage, there have been no incidents of Mpox suspicions detected in the ports of entry,” he added.

According to reports, South Africa received its first batch of Tecovirimat, aka Tpoxx or ST-246, last week for the treatment of patients who experience severe health complications as a result of Mpox.

The Health Department said the process to secure more treatment, including vaccines, was under way in case the need arose “However, all mild cases will continue to be managed with supportive treatment used to manage complications like fever, pneumonia and skin infections.”

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