Although no cases of monkeypox have been detected in South Africa to date, SA was trying to procure a number of vaccines to be prepared for all eventualities, said Prof Eftyhia Vardas, head of clinical virology at Lancet Laboratories.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said it was on high alert for any cases of the virus, after more than 200 suspected and confirmed cases had been detected in at least 19 countries around the globe since early May.
According to Vardas, although there was a possibility of some cases in SA, they were not expecting a big breakout, as was the case with Covid.
The reason for this was because monkeypox was not highly transmissible.
“The SA healthcare system is ready for cases, the NICD as well as all private labs are prepared. All testing will be centralised through the NICD,” she said.
“SA is trying to get vaccines for monkeypox through the NICD and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“At the moment we haven’t got any, it’s still early days, but we are trying to procure some so that we have some on hand as well as other drugs that might work on the virus.”
Dr Jacqueline Weyer, of the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases, said the institute had already taken steps related to surveillance, case investigation and contact tracing, as well as increasing vigilance and awareness among healthcare workers.
“So, we are equipping them with tools to help them identify cases and we will work with all the different role players within the public health sphere,” Weyer said.
“We are also giving guidance for responding to suspected cases and how to deal with it, step by step,” she added.
Weyer said the recent cases of monkeypox were unprecedented in that the first cases of outbreak were simultaneously reported from various nonendemic locations around the world.
“It is already the largest outbreak of monkeypox recorded outside of endemic locations,” she said.
Meanwhile, NICD’s executive director Adrian Puren said the department of health has been fully informed of the current state of outbreaks in multiple countries.
He said the NICD’s approach would essentially be to alert health authorities and to have their teams available. At this time SA did not need mass vaccinations for monkeypox.
“There are many of us to investigate from a epidemiological point of view,” Puren said