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Your Covid-19 questions answered

When could government implement Covid-19 regulations in future?

12 July 2022 - 07:00
Health minister Joe Phaahla repealed Covid-19 regulations governing the use of face masks, limits on gatherings and a requirement that people leaving and coming to SA must produce full vaccination certificates. File photo.
Health minister Joe Phaahla repealed Covid-19 regulations governing the use of face masks, limits on gatherings and a requirement that people leaving and coming to SA must produce full vaccination certificates. File photo.
Image: 123rf/kellyermis

Caprisa director and epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim has expressed concern over proposals that future Covid-19 regulations should only be enacted if there are severe acute hospitalisations. 

Health minister Joe Phaahla repealed Covid-19 regulations governing the use of face masks, limits on gatherings and a requirement that people leaving and coming to SA must produce full vaccination certificates.

This was after the country reached a turning point since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020. 

According to Karim, some people are proposing that future regulations only be enacted if there are severe acute hospitalisations and not be based on clinical cases. 

“This approach is looking at Covid-19 with a 2020 understanding — a disease that is a concern mainly due to it leading to acute severe disease and death,” he said. 

“In 2022, we need to understand that the virus does not only have acute consequences, but also has quite severe long term sequelae, even in those with mild infection initially. These long term sequelae are not only the brain fog and malaise of long Covid, but raised risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and neurological disease.”

Infections still needed to be prevented with evidence-based interventions. 

“So looking at only severe illness to guide public health measures is inappropriate as it fails to consider the main effects (more common) of infection are long term illnesses and so it is important to prevent infections and to take evidence-based action to prevent infections,” he said. 

Regulations to avoid severe impact

Earlier this year, Phaahla said there was no joy in inconveniencing people with restrictions. 

“We wish to assure all South Africans that as government we get no joy in inconveniencing you from time to time with restrictions. We say sorry where we have wronged you, but please be assured that all interventions were meant, and are still meant, for all of us to avoid severe impact of Covid-19,” he said.

“We completely disagree with armchair critics who argue we should drop all public health measures and just let the virus spread at will and only worry about whether hospitals are full,” he said. 

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