Covid-19 Contact Tracing Back – For Now, Amid Confusion

The Department of Health says because it has been inundated with queries regarding its revised contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols the changes announced last week have been put on hold.

On Thursday, 23 December, the department announced that South Africans without symptoms of Covid-19 would no longer need to isolate or test if they had been in contact with a positive case.

However, a few days later on Tuesday, the department said “in line with the principles of transparency and openness”, it “has decided to put the implementation of the revised policy changes on hold, while taking all additional comments and inputs received into consideration”.

The department added: “This means the status quo remains, and all prior existing regulations with regards to contact tracing, quarantine and isolation remain applicable.

“An amended circular will be re-issued once all additional inputs and comments have been considered. The department sincerely apologises for any confusion and inconvenience caused.”

Last week the government said a shift from containment measures towards mitigation was justified.

Explaining the reason for the changes – that have been put on hold for now – the department said the protocol revision was based on several scientific factors.

These included the fact that most people have been vaccinated with at least one vaccine dose and developed some level of immunity.

“This has contributed to the current low hospitalisation and high recovery rates,” said the department.

“Secondly, many people do not show any symptoms, and only a small percentage of them are diagnosed.

“A number of people including children who are in contact with Covid-19 positive people, lose their income and valuable school time while staying at home without symptoms.”

The department said it was recalling its circular, below, on revised contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation protocols.