SA has recalled rules that no longer required people without Covid-19 symptoms to isolate or test if they have been in contact with a positive case, government announced on Tuesday, saying an amended circular will be reissued.
Last week the health ministry said asymptomatic individuals who had been in contact with a Covid-19 case no longer had to isolate but should monitor symptoms for five to seven days and avoid attending large gatherings.
It said only those people who developed symptoms needed to be tested, and that those with mild symptoms should isolate for eight days and severe cases for 10 days.
The health ministry also revised protocols on quarantine, saying all quarantine facilities outside the home would be stopped while contact tracing efforts would be scrapped aside from specific scenarios, such as cluster outbreaks.
The reason for the revision was based on scientific factors, including that most people have been vaccinated with at least one dose and have developed some level of immunity. This has contributed to the current low hospitalisation and high recovery rates, the department said.
All those protocols will be recalled after the health department was inundated with media, stakeholder and public enquiries and comments following the release of the revised regulations.
In line with the principles of transparency and openness, the department has decided to put the implementation of the revised policy changes on hold while taking all additional comments and input received into consideration,” it said.
“This means the status quo remains, and all prior existing regulations with regards to contact tracing, quarantine and isolation remain applicable.”
The country has led the continent in Covid-19 cases, deaths and vaccinations, with 3.42-million cases reported and 90,854 fatalities.
SA’s experience has been closely watched around the world after it was among the first to identify the more transmissible Omicron variant. Cases started declining this week, with 7,216 new cases and 25 deaths reported in the past 24-hours.
Reuters/ Sowetan live