First SA monkeypox case confirmed

South Australia has reported its first case of monkeypox from a man who recently returned from overseas.

Jun 30, 2022, updated Jun 30, 2022
Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told reporters a short time ago the man is now isolating at home and is in a stable condition.

She said the man had been overseas to “one of the countries where we already know they have monkeypox” and sought advice from his GP, where he was diagnosed.

SA Health has not identified any close contacts.

“There’s no risk from this individual for any further spread,” Spurrier said.

“There are close contacts in terms of international travel but our communicable disease branch will be following that up.

“From a South Australian perspective this is somebody that has obviously picked up the infection overseas, has seen the travel advice, got diagnosed and is stable and there’s no further risk to us in our state.

Spurrier said an alert would be sent out to doctors across the state to “just remind them about this infection”.

“We don’t expect this to be spreading widely, but because we have small numbers of cases our CDCB (communicable diseases control branch) are able to contact those individuals and also check to see if there’s been any close contacts,” she said.

Spurrier added that requirements for Monkeypox close contacts are similar to COVID-19 close contacts, with guidance now available on SA Health’s website.

The quarantine period is 21 days.

Monkeypox has been identified in more than 50 new countries outside central and west Africa where it is already endemic.

There have been 3400 cases of monkeypox and one death since the outbreak began in May, primarily in Europe.

It comes as the state government today announced it would continue offering free flu vaccines for another month – despite earlier this week rejecting calls to extend the program which was due to end today.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said that South Australians will be able to receive a free flu vaccination at a GP or pharmacy until the end of July, as the state grapples with the combined threat of rising COVID-19 and influenza cases this winter.

More than 222,000 people in SA have taken the opportunity to receive a free flu jab since the program was launched on May 29, according to state government figures.

The free shots program was due to end today at the end of June.

“By extending it for a full month, we do want to take pressure off the hospital system,” Malinauskas told reporters.

“That is the core objective here, it’s not just about keeping people safe and healthy … an important fact to remember is this is the first time in the history of South Australia that the flu vaccine has been free.”

Malinauskas said he was anticipating the extension will cost the state government $3 million, depending on uptake.

Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia all this week extended their free flu shot schemes into July.

But Malinauskas on Tuesday rebuffed calls from the state opposition to extend the program, arguing the shorter timeline would encourage greater take-up.

“By putting a timeline on it, it was all about encouraging people to get that vaccine as quickly as they possibly can,” Malinauskas told reporters on Tuesday.

“We were very clear about that timeline.

“As it currently stands, if South Australians want to get the vaccine for free, they should be doing it as quickly as they can.”

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Shadow health spokesperson Ashton Hurn today said the government was “following the calls of the Opposition” by extending the program.

“What we’ve seen from Peter Malinauskas and the Labor Party is certainly welcomed from the Opposition,” Hurn told reporters.

“This really is a win for common sense … we do really believe that this could save lives this winter.”

She also she was hopeful the program would be extended through August.

“We’ve seen Peter Malinauskas change his tune in just a matter of 24 hours when it comes to extending the free flu vaccination program, and we’re certainly hopeful that he can extend for the duration of winter,” she said.

But Malinauskas rejected that he was adopting the Opposition’s idea or backflipping on his previous comments.

“What we’ve made very consistent is that health is a priority for us and unlike governments prior, including the government that Ms Hurn is an active member of, we are getting on with delivering things,” he said.

“We would always take active consideration of various policy options as they currently stand, what we’ve been able to achieve is the appropriate costing to make sure that we make a policy decision with the full breadth of knowledge that is available to us.

“We’re not going to make decisions on the run.”

In an update issued today, SA Health reported 1359 flu cases over the last week – up from 1191 the week prior.

There have been 6242 cumulative flu cases reported in South Australia this year.

Just under 800,000 flu vaccinations have been administered in South Australia in 2022, up from 701,000 at the same point last year, according to state government figures.

An estimated 45 per cent of eligible South Australians have been vaccinated against influenza, according to the figures.

Man arrested at Premier’s press conference

Meanwhile, police have arrested and charged a man with disorderly behaviour and assaulting police after a scuffle unfolded next to the Premier’s press conference.

Police say the 54-year-old Adelaide man was asked to move back by a plainclothes officer after “getting too close to the Premier”.

The man refused and then allegedly began acting in a disorderly manner, police said. The press conference was briefly interrupted.

He has been bailed to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on August 5.

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