The Department of Health has, as of immediate effect, suspended all Covid-19 contact tracing, except where infections are picked up in congregate settings and cluster outbreak situations.
Among the other provisions announced by the department are:
· That all contacts must not be tested unless they develop symptoms,
· The immediate suspension of all quarantine (applicable to both vaccinated and unvaccinated contacts),
· No isolation for asymptomatic individuals, and,
· An isolation period of eight days for individuals with mild Covid-19. Mild diseases refers to persons who have symptoms and have tested positive but who do not require hospitalisation, do not have shortness of breath, dyspnoea or abnormal chest imaging.
“These measures are good, and highlight the importance of people’s ability to remain actively involved in society and to work. But there’s an underlying message which is equally important, and that is that people must get vaccinated. Ensuring increased vaccinations among citizens is, in our view, the most important measure the government must focus on now,” says Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of SAMA.
Coetzee says SAMA is also encouraged by the developments that booster vaccinations will be available within the next week.
“This is an important move forward in the fight against Covid-19 and we urge every citizen to get vaccinated, and to receive their booster shots as soon as possible, but we can have a situation where a small minority of people are vaccinated while the majority aren’t. Perhaps the government must consider that at this time, mandatory vaccinations are now necessary, and long overdue.”