South Africa eases COVID rules as population gains immunity

South Africa will no longer impose COVID-19 quarantines and stop most contact tracing — now that as much as 80 percent of the country has gained immunity from previous infections, health officials said.

Director General of Health Dr. Sandile Buthelezi announced Thursday in a release that the country will change its strategy to focus on mitigation efforts, the South African reported.

“Quarantine has been costly to essential services and society as many people stay away from their work and thus lose their income and children miss on their schooling,” the release said, Bloomberg reported. “We never identify most high risk patients.” 

But the health agency will continue contact tracing for outbreaks in congregate settings, in which they’ll ask people who have been exposed to get tested only if they begin showing symptoms.

“All contacts must continue with their normal duties with heightened monitoring (daily temperature testing, symptom screening) of any early signs,” the release said. “If they develop symptoms then they should be tested and be managed according to the severity of the symptoms.”

“Quarantine has been costly to essential services and society,” the country’s health department said in its release.
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The health department noted that as much as 80 percent of the population has experienced past infections, providing some immunity.

South Africa has been hit in recent weeks with a new wave of cases driven by the Omicron variant, which was first detected by scientists there in late November.

Follow the latest news on the Omicron variant with the New York Post’s live coverage

The country announced Friday that it would start to offer Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters to anyone two months after their previous dose in an effort to shore up protection against the variant.

With Post wires