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SA health experts call for the drop of face masks and other restrictions

Does South Africa still require certain Covid-19 restrictions, such as wearing a face mask? Some of the country’s health experts say that:

The National Health Department said it will submit recommendations this week on how to move forward with Covid-19 regulation to the National Coronavirus Command Council.

The department said this is due to the low infection rate, low death rate, high recovery rate and reduced pressure from health care workers who sacrificed their lives during the peak of the pandemic.

“The current situation allows for relaxed restrictions or regulations as part of the government’s efforts to open up the economy. However, this does not replace vaccination as we are still living with this deadly pandemic,” said spokesman Foster Mohale.

“We are urging people to mass vaccinate to boost their immunity against the Covid-19 virus, including for the country to achieve population immunity,” he added.

Department’s position follows epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Professor Salim Abdol Karim said South Africa is poised to do away with public health measures such as sanitizing and wearing masks outdoors.

during a interview with enca on Friday, Karim said: “We have reached a stage where we can change most of our public health measures at this point.

“We can get away from all the sanitizing and drop our outdoor mask mandate.”

But he warned that there was still a risk of outbreaks in the future that needed to be mitigated.

“We’re going to have to keep three things in order to avoid major outbreaks in mass gatherings, as we saw happen with the matric fads,” he said.

Indoor gatherings should be restricted to vaccinated people, and masks should remain mandatory in certain indoor situations.

Karim, the former chair of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), said the past two years have been a long one and there must be a new strategy at this stage to deal with the pandemic.

“I don’t know what the government’s plans are regarding the removal of masks, but what we have seen from other countries is that we have reached a stage where we can change our overall strategy and remove most of our restrictions and public health measures. can delete at this time. point,” said Karim.

Masks are ‘obsolete’

Professor Shabir Madhi, one of the country’s top vaccinologists, said the state of disaster was “outdated” given the low trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

“I find it utterly surprising that a country like South Africa is still talking about the number of cases rather than the number of people hospitalized and dying from Covid-19, which is at an all-time low since the start of the pandemic,” he said.

The professor said the dire condition should have been lifted “months ago”. He also criticized the NCCC and the Department of Health “for being ignorant”.

Speaking of Saturday’s Soweto derby, Madhi said the current rules are “unfit for purpose”.

†[The state of disaster] does more harm than good, because if football fans can’t go to those kinds of events, livelihoods are also affected [as some people sell at these events]†

ALSO READ: No reason stadiums shouldn’t open tomorrow – Prof Madhi

“In South Africa, 80 to 85 percent of people after the Omnicron wave, even if they have not been vaccinated, have developed protection against serious illness and death,” Madhi says.

“Pretending we still need to vaccinate 70 percent of the nation before we can lift the state of disaster is completely ignorant of reality and oblivious to science.”

In January, Madhi said wearing a mask is “outdated” in South Africa.

“There is no point in continuing with the mask mandate. Especially with how Omicron is spreading. Most people use the dust masks, which don’t really prevent infection, although it can stop the spread of droplets.”

“In that context, wearing masks outside makes little sense. Indoors in poorly ventilated areas, you might be able to make a case for face coverings, but not even all year round. If we want masks to work, we need the right kinds, and the fabrics don’t protect us from infection. The days of wearing masks are now obsolete.”

Health department to make recommendations

Health Secretary Joe Phaahla said on Friday that his department will make recommendations to the NCCC, including whether face masks were still necessary in indoor and outdoor settings.

“If you look at [other countries] you will find different views, so we have to find a balance between all those views,” he said.

“There is nothing off the table,” he added.

Friday marked the two years since the first case of Covid-19 was registered in South Africa.

The country has been in various levels of lockdown and restrictions since then.

As of March 5, 2020, South Africa has reported more than 3.6 million cases of Covid-19 and nearly 100,000 deaths.

There is speculation that the next time President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation, the disaster will end and the government is now expected to introduce more permanent long-term regulations to help manage Covid-19 in the country.

READ NOW: SA is not stung fast enough, Phaahla warns

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