Monkeypox infections increasing in South Africa, says health minister
Monkeypox is becoming a “cause for concern” in South Africa, the country’s health minister said on Friday.
In an online news conference, Joe Phaahla said South Africa’s fifth monkeypox case was confirmed this Tuesday, a 28-year-old man from Johannesburg who recently traveled to Spain and the Netherlands.
“Although monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and COVID-19 … the rising number of confirmed cases is becoming a cause for concern,” he said.
The five infections in South Africa were recorded between June 22 and Aug. 17, he said, adding that there was no connection between the first four cases. He said officials are trying to establish if there is a link between the fourth and fifth cases, since both patients traveled to Spain, the worst-hit country in Europe with more than 5,700 cases in the ongoing global outbreak.
Since Jan. 1, nearly 36,500 cases, including 12 deaths, have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from 93 countries.
The WHO has declared monkeypox a global health emergency, its highest level of alert. “Almost all cases are being reported from Europe and the Americas, and almost all cases continue to be among men who have sex with men,” WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said in a briefing earlier this week.
Despite most cases being among men who have sex with men, the WHO has warned that “anyone exposed can get monkeypox.”
Tedros urged all countries to ensure they are ready for possible monkeypox outbreaks and to stop its transmission using effective public health tools.