South Africa stops quarantining and contact tracing for asymptomatic COVID sufferers

The highly contagious omicron variant of COVID has led to a huge disruption of holiday airline operations, as crew members have been unavailable, leading to thousands of canceled flights over the holiday weekend.  But the nation where the omicron variant of COVID was first noticed to be spreading far faster than previous versions of the virus has greatly scaled back restrictions on asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

The New York Post reports:

South Africa will no longer impose COVID-19 quarantines and stop most contact tracing — now that as much as 80 percent of the country has gained immunity from previous infections, health officials said.

Director General of Health Dr. Sandile Buthelezi announced Thursday in a release that the country will change its strategy to focus on mitigation efforts, the South African reported.

“Quarantine has been costly to essential services and society as many people stay away from their work and thus lose their income and children miss on their schooling,” the release said, Bloomberg reported. “We never identify most high risk patients.”

Given the apparent mildness of omicron, perhaps the South African approach would ease the disruption we are experiencing here and not cause undue health consequences. But of course, it would damage the fear porn industry.

Omicron—the COVID killer by Alexandra Koch. Pixabay License.

The UK Daily Mail reports:

What are the new rules in South Africa? 

Contact tracing:

People who have been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case can can [sic] continue with their normal duties but with heightened monitoring (daily temperature testing, symptom screening) of any early signs.

If they develop symptoms, they should be tested.     

Quarantining for contacts of confirmed cases:

Quarantine for both vaccinated and unvaccinated contacts of confirmed cases to be stopped with immediate effect. 

The contact is not required to test for Covid-19 unless they develop symptoms.    

Isolation:

Asymptomatic cases are not required to isolate but must self-observe for symptoms in the five to seven days after contact with a positive case. 

They must follow enhanced precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing and avoid gatherings. 

Cases with mild symptoms must isolate for eight days.  

Severe cases - requiring hospitalisation - must isolate for 10 days after they have been stabilised by doctors. 

Health care workers who tested positive with mild or severe symptoms must wear a N95 mask when they return to work and avoid close contact with extremely high-risk patients where possible. 

For mild and severe cases, there is no need to take a covid test before returning work, provided the eight or ten day isolation has been observed.   

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