Eduard Caraballo, a Venezuelan migrant who was injured after a fire broke out last week at an immigration detention center in Ciudad Juarez, at a hospital in El Paso

Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla on Wednesday confirmed that one patient suffering from Mpox, formerly known as Monkeypox, has died. He noted that four others are still recovering.

The patient, who died on Monday, was admitted to Tembisa Hospital located in Gauteng. He hails originally from KwaZulu-Natal but has been away from home for over the last six months.

The tragic announcement was made during a press briefing revolving around the management of the monkeypox outbreak in the country.

"In all cases, patients are males aged between 30 to 39 years without travel history to the countries currently experiencing an outbreak, which suggests there is local transmission of this infectious disease in the country," the minister said, SA News reported.

Phaahla mentioned that all cases are classified as severe according to the World Health Organization's definition, which requires hospitalization. The patients have other health conditions and are part of key populations including men who have sex with men (MSM).

The minister noted that one patient has been discharged, another one has been kept in isolation at home and two others are hospitalized.

"So, the one in our country is consistent with the multi-country outbreaks in various parts of the world and different from the strain variant in the DRC," the minister said.

He recalled that the last time South Africa reported Mpox cases was in 2022, with five confirmed cases in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Gauteng. No cases were reported in 2023.

The minister said that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) continues to monitor and investigate Mpox cases to understand the extent of the disease through systematic data collection and analysis.

Phaahla further shared that 38 contacts were identified in KwaZulu-Natal, and one patient had sexual contact with multiple partners including both men and women. The Outbreak Response Team is now tracing contacts and finding new cases in the affected provinces.

"Encourage people who may know that in one way or another have been associated with someone with the disease or showing any symptoms of skin lesions or rashes to approach their nearest health facility," he said.

At this moment, there is no registered treatment for Mpox in the country. However, the minister noted that the WHO suggested using Tecovirimat, also known as TPOXX, to treat severe cases, particularly in individuals with a CD4 count below 350.