Covid restrictions to be lifted

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COULD Mzansi be on the cusp of going back to normal life – free from the coronavirus regulations?

This seems to be the question, based on the tone of a letter by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla to the country’s MECs of health on the current state of the deadly virus.

The virus has in its wake left battered economies and robbed millions of people their loved ones across the globe.

But now, it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Phaahla has indicated that all regulations announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in May could be removed.

In a letter to health MECs that surfaced on Monday night, the minister said the department has been monitoring the pandemic with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases since the amended regulations were gazetted in early May ahead of a potential fifth wave.

Phaahla, in the letter dated Monday, 20 June, emphasised that the amended regulations were purely intended as a temporary measure to enable the country to deal with the impeding fifth wave.

Furthermore, he said the amended measures were meant to deal with three areas: the wearing of masks at indoor gatherings, outdoor gatherings and travellers entering the country.

“At the time of publicising these measures, the status of the epidemic was concerning and unpredictable. The department needed some mitigating measures in place,” Phaahla said in the letter to the MECs.

He said currently, there has been a decline in the number of new cases, hospitalisations and effective reproductive rate of the virus.

“There is a decline in the positivity rate though the number of tests done is also low. There is also a decline in the number of reported deaths,” he said.

He added that based on the above, the department met with the National Coronavirus Command Council for a consultation.

The parties agreed that the amended regulations, which were announced by Ramaphosa under alert level 1, should be removed. This would mean people would no longer be required to wear masks and that there will be no limitations for gatherings and people entering the country.

The letter revealed that the recommendations would be discussed by Cabinet in the coming days.

“I therefore request that you, as MECs of health, advise if you are in support or have any concerns regarding the repeal of these regulations as gazetted on the 4 May 2022. Feel free to offer any comments on the proposed repeal,” he wrote.

The repeal of the regulations would bring the curtain down after over two years since the deadly virus struck and forced countries globally to implement hard lockdowns to stop the spread of virus.

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