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Health department to update country on remaining Covid-19 rules on Thursday

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 22, 2022

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Health minister Joe Phaahla is set to hold a media briefing on Thursday to update the country on whether the remaining Covid-19 restrictions will remain or be scrapped.

Cabinet will meet on Wednesday to make “new decisions” on Covid-19 restrictions which could see the end to indoor mask-wearing, a cap on gatherings and travel requirements.

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Media liaison officer, Doctor Tshwale, said the briefing would be at 10am immediately after the Cabinet briefing.

In a letter sent to MECs earlier this week, Phaahla proposed changes to the current set of regulations. He said the country has seen decline in Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths since a slight uptick in cases were recorded in May.

The previous set of regulations were intended as a temporary stop-gap measure to deal with an increase of Covid-19 infections at the beginning of last month.

“At the time of their promulgation, the status of the epidemic was very concerning and unpredictable, and the department needed to have some mitigating measures in place,” he said

Wits infectious diseases specialist, Professor Francois Venter, said the best protection against severe Covid-19 is vaccination.

“Most scientists have long given up on government’s restrictions having any impact. The masks most people use are pretty useless in the Omicron era – they only work if N95-level, and if worn properly.

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“To be clear, this virus is vicious. We are learning plenty about the consequences now the vaccines have stopped most hospitalisations and deaths. People get it over and over, still get pretty sick, and Long Covid is a big and complex deal,” he said.

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