By Colleta Dewa
Johannesburg - The government of South Africa through the department of health has announced that the listeriosis outbreak, which killed nearly 200 people in the country has been contained.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi made the announcement during a media briefing on Monday.
Motsoaledi said there have not been any new cases reported in the last three months.
“The incident rate of confirmed laboratory confirmed Listeria cases has dropped to the pre-outbreak levels.
“Therefore, the conclusion is that the outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa is over. And I am here to announce to you we no longer have a Listeria outbreak in South Africa,” said Motsoaledi.
He went on to caution consumers to always take precaution in order to avoid another plague.
He said his team would continue with research to prevent and detect future outbreaks.
“This will further strengthen the system to prevent and detect listeriosis outbreaks, including ongoing legislative reform regarding food safety.”
The minister also thanked the World Health Organisation and other organisations for their commitment in assisting South Africa during the fight against the disease.
“The World Health Organisation increased its technical support to South Africa to enable the country to contain the outbreak and to strengthen health systems to prevent future outbreaks,” he added
He said the people of South Africa are now free to consume ready-to-eat processed meat as before the outbreak.
The listeriosis outbreak caused a scare across the Southern African Development Community region with Namibia reporting one case of an infected person.
Meanwhile, Tiger Brands, the company whose factories were implicated as sources of the bacteria, announced that it will soon resume production at its Listeria-affected factories.
The factories were forced to close by the health department earlier this year after it was detected that they were the sources of the listeriosis bacteria.
Speaking to The Southern Times, Tiger Brands Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Mary Jane Morifi, said the organisation has not found closure regarding the circumstances leading to the bacteria being found in their factories.
Morifi said both local and international experts whom they hired have not been able to conclude as to how the bacteria was found there.
“They conducted tests at the factories, internal and external environment and on the water that came in but nothing conclusive as yet,” said Morifi.
Tiger Brands are facing a lawsuit after Attorneys Richard Spoor filed a class action lawsuit against them.
They want Tiger Brands to compensate all the victims.