By Chris King • 25 December 2021 • 1:19
As announced in a statement by the South African government this Friday, December 24, citizens who have been in contact with a Covid-positive person, but do not have symptoms, whether they are vaccinated or not, are exempt from quarantining, and taking tests.
Instead, they are requested by the Health Ministry to take their temperature for the next 5-7 days and avoid going to places with large concentrations of people. Also, tracking is cancelled, and will only be carried out in cases of collective outbreaks, noting that investigations into the virus justify a change from containment measures, to mitigation.
South Africa has led the continent in terms of Covid cases and deaths, as well as vaccinations. Its experience has been closely followed around the world, after being among the first countries to identify the most transmissible Omicron variant.
Only people who developed symptoms need to be tested, continued the statement, adding that people with mild symptoms should be isolated for eight days, and severe cases for 10 days.
Deputy Health Minister, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, told local broadcaster SABC that this move “has been based on the advice of our scientists, that the Omicron variant is no longer really having an impact”. Adding that it did not replace existing guidance on issues like social distancing, and wearing masks.
Dhlomo revealed that vaccination rates among the country’s high-risk populations were 66 per cent in those over 60, and 63 per cent in those 50 to 59 years old. Harry Moultrie, from the country’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases, backed the changes, as he tweeted, “South Africa cancels contact tracing, and quarantine, and turns towards mitigation. Good decision”.
In his Christmas Eve speech, Vice President David Mabuza pointed out that the country had come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic, “We have come closer to recovering our normal lives and freedoms”, before encouraging more people to get vaccinated.
South Africa remains at the lowest level in its five-degree hospital pressure system. While Omicron has caused a sharp rise in infections, these have not been matched by the increases in hospitalisations and deaths seen during previous waves.
This Thursday 23, the country reported 21,157 new infections, bringing the total to 3.37 million since the start of the pandemic. In addition, it registered 75 new deaths. Cases have already peaked in the country’s commercial center of Gauteng, the province where Omicron was first detected, and infections have also stabilised in three other provinces, as reported by cadenaser.com.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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