Health advisers have called for South Africa’s government to halt tracing and isolating people exposed to Covid-19, saying the measures aren’t necessary or helpful enough to justify their negative impacts.
The advisory committee to Health Minister Joe Phaahla said quarantining must be stopped, as it’s “no longer viable in the current social and economic climate,” the country’s News24 outlet reported on Saturday. The recommendation marked the latest indication that, in southern Africa, where the discovery of Covid-19’s Omicron variant triggered international travel bans and lockdowns, the new strain has been found to be relatively harmless.
“Crucially, it appears that efforts to eliminate and/or contain the virus are not likely to be successful. Therefore, it is critical that the role of containment efforts like quarantine and contact tracing is re-evaluated,”The Ministerial Advisory Committee, (MAC), informed Phaahla via a memo last Wednesday.
The recommendation came nearly a month after Omicron’s emergence, which set off pandemic alarm bells around the world. The international reaction was called by Dr. Angelique Cetzee (chairwoman of South African Medical Association). “a storm in a teacup”She said that the variant only caused mild symptoms in her nation. According to her Monday CNN interview, Omicron cases in the country are now decreasing. “over the curve”The new version is available.
According to the MAC 60-80% South Africans have Covid-19 immunity, either through vaccination or previous infected. The fact that most people infected by the virus do not develop any symptoms means that about 10% have been identified.
“It stands to reason that if the vast majority of cases are not diagnosed, then the vast majority of case contacts are also not diagnosed,”According to the committee. “This means that quarantining and contact tracing are of negligible public health benefit in the South African setting.”
South Africa saw an average of 30 deaths from Covid-19 over the past week. That’s down from 600 in January and about 400 in July.
The MAC stated that quarantining can cause significant economic and socio-economic burdens. These include loss of income and disruptions to staffing in hospitals and other crucial facilities.