South Africa to stop tracing and quarantining contacts of COVID-19 cases


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The Omicron variant was first identified by South African scientists last month. (Representative)

Johannesburg:

South Africa has stopped tracing and quarantining contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases with immediate effect, the health ministry said, as the country tries to recover from the economic downturn precipitated by the pandemic.

Health Ministry Director General Dr Sandile Buthelezi confirmed on Thursday that contact tracing will be halted with immediate effect, except in assembly settings and cluster outbreak situations or stand-alone settings.

“All contacts should continue with their normal duties with increased monitoring (daily temperature tests, screening for symptoms). If they do develop symptoms then they should be tested and managed based on the severity of the condition,” he said. said Buthelezi.

The move comes after scientists and members of the medical fraternity informed the government that the economic center of Gauteng province has now passed the peak of a fourth wave.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to have a less severe impact than previous variants, a study in South Africa has found.

This variant was first identified by South African scientists last month and has prompted extensive research into its impact.

“In South Africa, Omicron behaves in a less severe manner,” said Cheryl Cohen, professor of epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand, who shared the results of a research titled “Early Assessment of the Severity of the Omicron variant in South Africa ‘in an online briefing from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

Some of the other reasons given for this decision are that the proportion of people with some immunity to infection and / or vaccination has remained high.

“(These) strategies are no longer appropriate. Mitigation is the only viable strategy. (This is) especially true for newer, more infectious / transmissible variants like Omicron,” said Buthelezi.

“Quarantine has cost essential services and society dearly, as many people stay away from their jobs and thus lose their income and children miss their education,” he explained.

The other reason includes testing biased towards a symptomatic minority, which does not take into account newer variants and pre-existing immunity.

The financial sector has welcomed the measures as South Africa struggles to recover from its longest economic recession in more than three decades.

According to the latest standards, isolation standards would continue to apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, who return to work from day 10, but no isolation is required for patients with mild symptoms.

They only need to be under self-observation with heightened precautions that include wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings and maintaining standards of social distancing.

Mild illnesses are people who show symptoms and who have tested positive, but who do not require hospitalization.

“It is not necessary to perform a COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen test) before returning to work after eight days of isolation. For mild cases, isolation beyond eight days should be justified by the medical report, “added Buthelezi. .

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