Contrary to earlier reports, the Health Department on Thursday said schoolchildren must still wear masks indoors like everyone else.
The Department said, “it would also like to bring to the public attention of the confusion created by unfortunate and regrettable human error in the media statement issued yesterday about the removal of face mask wearing by children at school”.
A terse statement from the department clarifying the mix-up said, “this is not part of the gazetted health regulations, and is therefore retracted to avoid any misunderstanding of the regulations”.
The department added: “Therefore, children like other people are expected to continue complying with the provisions of Regulation 16A on face masks in the classrooms and general indoor gatherings, unlike outdoors in playgrounds and sports fields”.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla has extended the period for public comments on health regulations relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions; Public Measures in Points of Entry; Management of Human Remains and Environmental Health by three months with effect from Thursday, 5 May 2022.
The department said it has been receiving a lot of feedback from the public since the extension of public consultation process deadline, together with the introduction of limited health regulations meant to manage the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and future notifiable medical conditions.
“We would like to urge all South Africans to continue to share their feedback because we believe it will assist the process as we move forward to finalise the regulations,” said the statement.
Face masks are an effective non-pharmaceutical intervention against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and it is more relevant now as the number of Covid-19 positive cases is rising once again.
The department also reminded the public that vaccination services against Covid remain available and accessible.
“We can mitigate the impact of the anticipated 5th wave and emerging variants,” the department said.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said in the last 24 hours 9 757 new cases were recorded. The NICD also said seven people died from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.