South Africa walks back Covid quarantine and isolation changes

 ·29 Dec 2021

South Africa paused a plan to end Covid-19 contact tracing and some quarantine measures to consider additional comments about the policy.

An amended circular will be issued once further contributions to the debate have been considered, the Department of Health said in a statement on Tuesday. The reversal comes after a deluge of inquiries from media, the public and others, it said.

Announced by the department last week, the shift in policy was initiated because as much as 80% of the population have some sort of immunity from prior illness or vaccines. The move was taken as a potential sign the government has decided to move away from imposing measures to restrict the various waves of the pandemic.

“Containment strategies are no longer appropriate — mitigation is the only viable strategy,” Department of Health Director General Sifiso Buthelezi said at the time. People having to isolate without symptoms deprives them of income or children of school time, according to the updated statement this week.

South Africa is currently battling a surge of the omicron coronavirus variant, which has delivered record case numbers but, so far, limited impact on hospitals compared with the earlier delta strain. The government hasn’t toughened lockdown restrictions to date.

Read: US to ease travel restrictions on South Africa next week

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter