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Joe Phaahla proposes an end to mask-wearing, gathering limits

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HEALTH Minister Dr Joe Phaahla is of the view that mask-wearing is no longer needed following a decline in the number of reported Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths. Limits on gatherings and border checks for Covid-19 – and the need to be vaccinated to enter South Africa – have also been dropped.

In a letter addressed to Health MECs, he revealed a decline in the effective reproductive rate of the Covid-19 virus (less than 0.7%) and in the positivity rate, owing to low numbers in testing.

Phaahla is also proposing that limitations on gatherings be lifted, as well as entry limitations to venues.

He wants Health MECs to give their comments or concerns on the repeal of the regulations on Tuesday, as his department prepares to discuss the recommendations with Cabinet this week.

“We have been monitoring the epidemic working with the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) and the current epidemiological analysis points towards lower infection rates and that the country has exited the recent spike (5th wave), which the current limited regulations were promulgated to mitigate…” he said in his letter.

The Department of Health has consulted the National Coronavirus Command Council on the proposed lifting of regulations.

Phaahla explained that the regulations were intended as a temporary “stop-gap measure” so that the country could effectively deal with a fifth wave of the pandemic.

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