South Africa ends Covid curbs including mask wearing

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South Africa has put an end to Covid curbs including the wearing of face masks.

Health minister Joe Phaahla published a notice in the Government Gazette on Wednesday repealing the country’s Covid–19 regulations.

These include the wearing of masks, curbs on gathering sizes and border checks for Covid-19. Phaahla earlier this week suggested the restrictions be dropped following the decline in hospitalisations and reported cases.

An announcement regarding the regulations was only expected later this week after president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet met on Thursday.

“I Mathume Joseph Phaahla, minister of Health hereby repeal Regulations 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions… in their entirety,” the two-paragraph notice states.

“The repeal of the regulations concerned will come into operation on publication in the Gazette.”

Regulation 16A dealt with mask-wearing, 16B contained the regulations on gatherings, and 16C were the regulations for international travellers entering South Africa.

The minister said his department has been working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on monitoring the epidemic. As of mid-June, the critical indicators showed:

  • Reported cases declined
  • Hospitalisations declined
  • The effective reproductive rate of the virus declined to under 0.7%
  • The positivity rate declined, though the number of tests done is also low
  • Reported deaths declined

For these reasons, Phaahla said the National Department of Health had planned to recommend to the cabinet that the regulations be repealed.

Covid cases

South Africa on Tuesday recorded 1,087 new Covid-19 cases bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3 987 979.

This increase represents a 7.8% positivity rate, said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

In addition, the National Department of Health reported 20 deaths and of these, three deaths occurred in the past 24 to 48 hours.

The cumulative Covid-19 deaths are at 101,640 to date. The cumulative number of recoveries now stands at 3 872 768, with a recovery rate of 97.1%.

Vaccine equality

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday (22 June) called on BRICS to support the drive of the African Union to ensure that vaccines destined for African countries are procured from African manufacturers.

The president was delivering a pre-recorded message at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum ahead of the virtual 14th BRICS Leaders’ Summit on Thursday and Friday.

Though the global economic recovery is underway, president Ramaphosa highlighted that the situation remains fragile and the recovery itself is uneven.

He said that developing economies continue to face challenges of poverty and inequality, which the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.

“Lack of access to lifesaving vaccines and treatments is still holding back the recovery of millions across the world.

“We cannot have a swift and inclusive global economic recovery unless the issue of vaccine inequality is urgently addressed,” the president said.


Read: South Africa needs to make these changes at its schools – according to a top law professor

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