South Africa Stops Contact Tracing And Quarantine

Story Highlights
  • South Africa has eased contact tracing that has come into contact with an infected person.
  • Omicron outbreak has faded after cases peaked on December 15th.
  • Hospitalisations in Gauteng province have also fallen 34%.

South Africa: Authorities has announced it will stop contact tracing and end quarantine for asymptomatic cases because containment of the virus is ‘no longer viable’. Promising graphs today highlight how the country’s Omicron outbreak has faded after just a month cases appear to have peaked nationally at 26,976 on December 15th, and have now fallen for the last 5 days in a row. Health authorities in South Africa, where the Omicron strain first took off, said today that contact tracing would be halted with immediate effect, except for large gatherings or self-contained settings.

Close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases will no longer have to quarantine whether they are vaccinated or not and are not required to take a test unless they develop symptoms. The huge surge in infections raised fears that a deadly wave of hospitalisations would follow, but almost immediately doctors on the frontlines said patients were coming in with milder illness. The claims were dismissed by Britain’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who claimed South Africa was benefitting from having a younger and sparser population. But in another promising sign, hospitalisations now appear to be levelling off nationally in South Africa, hovering just below 400 admissions a day compared to a height of 2,000 when Delta took hold. Admissions dropped yesterday by four per cent after another 593 were recorded.

Deaths are just a fraction of the levels when Delta took hold, with just 99 yesterday. There are 50 deaths a day on average now, up only slightly on the 20 deaths a day when Omicron was first detected in the country. For comparison, at the peak of the Delta wave, there were 600 deaths a day. 3 real-world studies published yesterday suggested that Omicron infections are milder than Delta, and are less likely to put people in hospital.

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