South Africa halts Covid-19 quarantine requirements with immediate effect

Committee says tracing and quarantine requirements are unsuitable for current social and economic conditions.

SA will no longer require people that have been exposed to the coronavirus to quarantine except in cases where infections have been caused by cluster outbreaks, congregate settings or self-contained settings.

This follows a recommendation to the health department by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19 that SA stop quarantine requirements and instead move to mitigating the spread of Covid-19.

A circular released by the health department on Thursday says due to new information on Covid-19 and the current social and economic conditions, quarantine requirements for people with Covid-19 symptoms should stop with immediate effect.

“Containment strategies are no longer appropriate — mitigation is the only viable strategy ... especially true of the newer, more infectious/transmissible variants like Omicron,” health department director-general Sifiso Buthelezi said in the circular.

Contact tracing of those potentially exposed to Covid-19 will also no longer be required.

“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 out on schooling,” the circular reads.

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