The Government of South Africa has announced the end of all Covid restrictions in what it describes as a “very historic day” and a “turning point since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world and in the country”. Minister of Health Dr. Joe Phaahla said:
On May 5th, we published a limited set of Regulations to provide a framework for mitigating against a spike in COVID-19 infections driven by subvariant BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron variant. During late April and most of May there was a significant peak in daily infections across the country starting to drive increased admissions to hospitals and daily deaths reported. Daily infections rose from as low as 250 cases per day in early April to just under 8,000 on May 15th 2022 with positivity rate reaching 22% on May 1st and 20% on May 15th.
By mid-June the situation had taken to a very positive direction with:
• Decline in daily cases
• Decline in hospitalisation
• Decline in positivity rate
• Decline in reproductive number
• And decline in reported deaths
Having monitored the positive direction for more than three weeks we came to the conclusion that the peak infection which we concluded was a limited fifth wave driven by subvariants and not a new variant of concern was dissipating and that there was no longer an imminent risk.
It is on this basis that we approached the NCCC and the National Health Council which is made up of all Health MECs with a proposal that the limited regulations which dealt with:
(a) Wearing of masks indoors
(b) Limitations of gatherings
(c) Vaccination proof or PCR negative tests at Ports of Entry
– should all be lifted
We are pleased that out proposal received full support including by the Presidential Coordinating Council and Cabinet yesterday.
As a results of this, I signed a note in the Government Gazette last night releasing all the remaining health regulations.
This comes despite South Africa’s vaccine take-up remaining very modest.
A number of countries continue to impose some form of Covid restrictions two and a half years after the Wuhan outbreak, including the U.S. which still has a ban on unvaccinated visitors entering the country.