Sunday, 06 February 2022

Pretoria: Government has announced new rules used in the containment and prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amendments come after meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), which received updates on the management of COVID-19 in South Africa.

“These changes had initially been announced through a circular issued by the Director-General of Health, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, in December but later withdrawn pending certain processes,” said Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, on Friday.

However, according to the Minister, the consultations and alignment with previously gazetted regulations have since been finalised.

“I hope this gives clarity. We will finalise the directions in terms of the Disaster Management Act and publish the changes in the government gazette.”

The Minister has fleshed out some of the main changes that now apply for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in South Africa:

  • Quarantining of contacts of COVID-19 cases is now stopped;
  • No need for testing of contacts who are asymptomatic. Instead, if you are a contact, you should just take extra precautions in mingling closely with other people for five to seven days, while observing if you develop symptoms;
  • Contact tracing by health workers, including community health workers, should stop. In situations where there are cluster outbreaks in clearly identified congregate settings, including workplaces, a telephone-based alert should be given to those who could be affected so that they can start the five to seven days self-observation;
  • Those who test positive on routine testing, such as for travel or meetings, but are asymptomatic need not isolate. They should observe the emergence of symptoms, while taking precautions for five to seven days;
  • For mild illness, isolation is reduced from 10 to seven days and no need to test again when symptoms are gone; and
  • Moderate to severe cases will usually entail hospitalisation. After discharge, patients need a further seven days of home isolation and after that, there is no need for testing. Going back to work for health workers must be with a N95 mask.