Health Department announces immediate halt to COVID-19 contact tracing

The government has decided to stop COVID-19 contact tracing with immediate effect, except where infections are picked up in congregate settings.

FILE: A health worker conducts a COVID-19 coronavirus molecular test in Parkview, Johannesburg, on 22 October 2020. Picture: LUCA SOLA/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The government has decided to stop COVID-19 contact tracing with immediate effect, except where infections are picked up in congregate settings.

These include prisons where an inmate or a member of staff tests positive and other spaces where people live in proximity such as old age and children's homes.

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The Health Department published revisions to contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation protocols on Thursday night.

It said there was new information about COVID-19, including the high number of asymptomatic cases and that only a small proportion of infections were confirmed through laboratory testing.

Government said all contacts should not have to test for COVID-19 unless they started showing symptoms.

All quarantine must also stop with immediate effect but if you have tested positive you are still required to isolate for 10 days.

Employers were required to consider the individual's current state of health before calling them back to work.

Once the mandatory period of isolation was completed, no more testing is needed.

MONITORING COMPLIANCE

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission said it would monitor compliance after an agreement between South Africa's three largest private pathology groups on a price reduction of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.

They have agreed for the tests to cost no more than R150 - inclusive of vat with immediate effect.

The three laboratories have also undertaken to submit to the Commission, a compliance report that will include financial statements every three months.

It will also monitor the prices for COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and any material changes in costs.

"This is the second successive price reduction supplement the Commission has concluded with three private laboratory groups in less than 14 days" said Commission spokesperson Siyabulela Makunga.

The Competition Commission said the price reduction would remain in effect for a period of two years, which was good news for those who battled to afford the test.

‘TOURISM HAS GOVERNMENT BACKING’

Elsewhere, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu assured the sector it would get the full backing of government.

This followed her visit to the UAE World Expo 2020 held in Dubai where she showcased South Africa to the rest of the world.

Sisulu met with various representatives from other strategic countries whose tourists are crucial to South African tourism market.