- The Department of Health have retracted their decision from five days ago to end contact tracing
- For the time being those who test positive for Covid-19 will have to self-isolate and inform those they have recently been in contact with
- The US recently relaxed their self-isolation rules for asymptomatic Covid-19 cases and the UK wants to follow them
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JOHANNESBURG - On 23 December the Department of Health stated that the practice of contact tracing will end and that people who have asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 do not have to self-isolate.
However, yesterday (28 December) the department released a retraction of their previous statement, saying that they are waiting to receive more input from different health officials and global organisations before deciding if they will implement the previously released measures.
Therefore the protocols and rules that were in place before 23 December are still in effect. This means that people who test positive for Covid-19 need to self-isolate and inform people they have recently been in contact with to get tested, Business Insider reports.
A global perspective on self-isolation
According to Sky News, the US has started requiring those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and do not show symptoms to only self-isolate for five days and British scientists believe that the UK should follow suit.
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Currently, people in the UK who have Covid-19 are able to exit their self-isolation after seven days if they produce two consecutive negative PCR tests.
In both the UK and South Africa experts have expressed that they think reducing the self-isolation period will boost the economy, as having people take two weeks off work is not a sustainable practice.
Health Department's reversal of new Covid19 protocols has a negative impact on healthcare workers in rural areas, says Rudasa
An expert opinion on self-isolation
Rufaro Samanga from the University of the Witwatersrand's Epidemiology & Biostatistics department told Briefly News that self-isolation is most effective in a situation where as many positive cases as possible can be identified. However, in South Africa, only 16% of Covid-19 cases are being found in testing.
"The reduction from 10 days to 7 days is a combination of mainly two things: growing evidence around the infectious period of a Covid-19 plus individual and health economics (what is Covid-19 costing folks and the broader country when the isolation period is so long).
There is growing evidence that supports that people are most infectious in the 2 days prior and 3 days following the onset of symptoms. The reduction to 7 days is thus still erring on the side of caution," Samanga said.
Reactions to proposed self-isolation rule changes
"One disease yet so many different rules from so many countries."
"Follow the science, people."
"May as well say to the virus "Come get us, we give up". This is criminal."
"As long as the vulnerable are looked after and protected."
"At last a bit of common sense - Covid is endemic and we either learn to live with it or this farce goes on for ever - time to grow up and face reality just like we do with seasonal flu."
Omicron: US to end travel ban to South Africa amid easing fears over new variant
In other Covid-related news, earlier Briefly News reported that the travel ban imposed on South Africa and other southern African countries is set to be lifted this week after United States (US) President Joe Biden made a formal announcement on Monday.
"Hebanna, scrap everything!": South Africans want an end to all Covid19 protocols, contact tracing ended
The ban was imposed due to fears surrounding the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, the threat of which officials in the country said is understood better, according to a statement released by the White House on Friday.
With the variant now widespread across the globe, travellers from the region will not have a wholly impact on the cases in the US. Biden's proclamation will bring the decision to end the ban into effect at midnight on Friday, 31 December.
Source: Briefly News