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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Health department taken to task over rescinding of Covid tracing rules

An expert wonders if pressure was exerted on the Department of Health, which resulted in the quarantined rules getting repealed.


The South African Medical Association (Sama) wants answers from the national department of health after it backtracked on revising provisions and protocols in dealing with the Covid virus. On Wednesday, the department recalled the circular on revised contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, issued last week. “The reason for the revision was based on several scientific factors, including the fact that most people have vaccinated with at least one vaccine dose and developed some level of immunity. “This has contributed to the current low hospitalisation and high recovery rates,” the department said in a revised statement. The department said an…

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The South African Medical Association (Sama) wants answers from the national department of health after it backtracked on revising provisions and protocols in dealing with the Covid virus.

On Wednesday, the department recalled the circular on revised contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, issued last week.

“The reason for the revision was based on several scientific factors, including the fact that most people have vaccinated with at least one vaccine dose and developed some level of immunity.

“This has contributed to the current low hospitalisation and high recovery rates,” the department said in a revised statement.

The department said an amended circular will be re-issued once all additional inputs and comments have been considered. The Sama said it was nonsensical that the department has retracted its earlier circular on the Covid protocols.

ALSO READ: Covid-19 contact tracing reinstated – Here’s what you need to know

In a circular issued on 23 December, the department announced the suspension of contact tracing, and quarantine for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Sama chair Dr Angelique Coetzee said they supported the department’s initial revised protocols.

“The reversal of these protocols barely a week after they were first announced, raises some extremely serious questions, which the department must provide answers for.

“To simply say the provisions have been repealed is simply not good enough,” said Coetzee. She said quarantining someone who has been vaccinated, for instance, was ludicrous if that person had no symptoms.

“The previous circular made a lot of sense.

“We have to question why it was changed, and who put pressure on the department to retract it,” she said.

“The department, in our view, has a lot to answer for because of this development,” she said.

The Democratic Alliance’s MEC for health Jack Bloom said the department should not accept arbitrary changes without giving reasons.

“We do agree with the Sama’s concerns on this issue. We need rational and transparent decision-making,” Bloom said.

National chair of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa), Rosemary Anderson, said the hospitality and tourism industry understood the importance of trying to reduce severe illness and hospitalisation caused by Covid.

“We do not believe that quarantine, isolation and contract tracing has had any significant success at reducing severe illness or hospitalisation caused by Covid,” Anderson said.

“The hospitality industry has dutifully and at great effort, abided by government’s protocols of keeping records of patrons’ temperatures and their details for the past 21 months.

“Sadly, none of this significant effort has shown to have transpired into reducing the spread of Covid,” she said.

Anderson said Fedhasa hopes the Department of health reverts to the easing of quarantine restrictions and contact tracing. “It is a great pity this decision was reversed,” she said.

marizkac@citizen.co.za

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