Politics

Public urged to comment on COVID-19 health regulations


While South Africa has exited the National State of Disaster, Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has encouraged South Africans to comment on the Health Regulations.

The regulations are intended to ensure that the country continually has mechanisms to control and manage the resurgence of COVID-19 and an outbreak of any pandemic in the future.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, the Minister said the amendments have been gazetted for public comment until Saturday, 16 April 2022, and fall under the National Health Act.

“The Health Regulations as in [the] Government Gazette will take effect immediately after the transitional measures have elapsed. The regulations in the main seek to introduce few amendments to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Diseases and Medical Conditions, to include Coronavirus (COVID-19) as such,” the Minister said.

In order to contain the spread of notifiable medical conditions, which notifiable medical condition may be spread, and guided by the scientific evidence of the risk of transmission of such notifiable medical condition, advice may be shared amongst the relevant Cabinet members and departments with regard to the following:

  • Curfew, Gatherings, Sport activities and social festivities, operations in the economy, public transportation, religious and cultural practices, school opening and closure, sale; dispensing and consumption of alcohol, and lockdown of locality or the country.

“The Regulations, also deal with the requirements for persons entering the Republic of South Africa based on the epidemiological situation of such a notifiable medical condition, that in this case vaccination certificate and or negative PCR test not older than 72 hours shall be presented at the point of entry.

“We continue to receive enquiries about the fate of face masks, PRC tests post the 30 day period of the transitional measures, and we would like to reiterate that all these will be contained in the final health regulations.

“Thus, we would like to urge people to use this window period to help us shape the proposed health regulations to ensure they reflect the views and aspirations of our people as far as managing the current and future pandemics is concerned,” the Minister said.

In the past few weeks, the country has been experiencing low levels of infections, just at 8% rate of infections, which is a manageable number and does not pose a threat to the health infrastructure.

“As COVD-19 remains a threat, we had to find other ways to deal with it within the existing legislation and public policy. We want to emphasise the few transitional measures which remain in place and will lapse after 30 days as outlined by the President last night,” the Minister said.

The following measures remain in place:

  • A face mask must be worn in an indoor public space covering both nose and mouth;
  • The existing restrictions on gatherings will continue – indoor and outdoor venues can take up to 50% of their capacity without any maximum limit, provided that proof of vaccination or a Coved test not older than 72 hours is required at entrance of the venue; 
  • Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or negative PCR test not older than 72 hours;
  • The directions that provide for the payment of the special R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant remain in place;
  • The direction that provide for the extension of the validity of a learners licence, driving licence card, licence disc, professional driving permit and registration of a motor vehicle remain in place.

 

Vaccinations

The Minister reminded South Africans that the lifting or termination of the National State of Disaster doesn’t automatically mean the end of the pandemic.

“… Hence, we encourage all eligible unvaccinated and partly vaccinated people to vaccinate because vaccine remains the only effective weapon for us to prevent the resurgence of the pandemic and high number of casualties,” the Minister said.

As of 4 April 2022, over 44.5% of the adult population have fully vaccinated, which translates into 17 459 494 people.

“Whilst we have lifted our state of disaster, our total number of vaccinated people is very low as compared to other countries that have lifted their lockdowns, which if we happen to be hit by another variant or wave, the chances of  high level of transmissions and infections will be high,” he said. –SAnews.gov.za



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