SPECIAL EDITORIAL: SA Border Management Authority implements state of preparedness plan for MPOX

By Mmemme Mogotsi

*Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Communication and Marketing at the Border Management Authority

The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Dr Michael Masiapato has announced that the BMA port health officials have developed an outbreak preparedness plan that outlines the response in dealing with MPOX. The current response plan has been activated to respond, since 13 cases have been confirmed by the National Department of Health.

The Border Management Authority is implementing screening processes for travellers entering the country at all ports of entry. Commissioner Masiapato has highlighted that in the airports, the first phase of screening occurs when the conveyance operator which is the captain of the aircraft and crew members provide a general declaration of health. This is a document that is required to be completed by all conveyance operators where they declare that no travellers have reported or were found to be ill on board. This is in terms of International Health Regulations. 

Commissioner Masiapato has also reported that the process that follows is where travellers are subjected to thermal screening for checking 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 experiencing of other symptoms. The BMA Port health officer will also conduct their own general and non-invasive observation of the traveller under investigation.

“BMA Port Health officers are well trained to be vigilant to observe for any 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 healthcare 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. BMA port health officials have also elevated the focus to be on health education and awareness to travellers. At this stage there have been no incidents of MPOX suspicions detected in the ports of entry thus far,” Commissioner Masiapato added.

In line with the communication from the National Department of Health, the Authority continues to encourage travellers to continue with chronic conditions medication as people with chronic conditions have presented more severe manifestation of symptoms. We also encourage travellers suspecting any symptoms to seek medical care immediately especially those who have a travel history to areas with cases of MPOX.

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