Also on this day, the Department of Health, along with the National Institute for Communicable Disease-both supported by WHO-drafted an emergency response plan aimed at controlling and ultimately ending the outbreak, and preventing future listeriosis outbreaks.
The overall response to listeria and the testing of every factory cost R12-million‚ said health director-general Precious Matsoso.
Three months later, at the beginning of March, 180 people had died and just under 1 000 cases had been confirmed.
"Therefore, the conclusion is that the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa is over".
The breakthrough came when, on 12 January, nine children under the age of five from a crèche in Soweto were taken to the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and a paediatrician suspected a foodborne disease, possibly listeriosis.
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At the time the source of the listeriosis outbreak was identified as polony and products from an Enterprise Foods factory in Polokwane‚ Limpopo.
"The operation revealed that 281 premises were operating without valid health certificates", Motsoaledi said. In March this year, the Minister held a press conference to inform the public that they would be recalling processed food from Rainbow Chicken and Enterprise Polokwane Factory after more than 16 environmental samples tested positive for the listeriosis monocytogenes strain ST 6.
Listeriosis cases have been recorded for 40 years in South Africa. Early investigation of groups of cases will detect outbreaks and identity affected food early.
South Africa's Department of Health first announced the outbreak. This is why health officials have declared the outbreak officially over.
Health Minister Aaron Mostoaledi says factories across the country can now produce cold meat products as the listeria outbreak is officially over.