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… navigating through the COVID-19 lockdown predicament …

Dear employer

On 23 December 2021, the Director-General of Health issued a circular to all heads of Provincial Health Departments, amending the Covid-19 contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols.

In terms of the circular, the protocols are amended as follows, with immediate effect:

Contact Tracing

  • All contact tracing must be stopped with immediate effect, except in congregate settings and cluster outbreak situations or self-contained settings.
  • All contacts must continue with their normal duties with heightened monitoring (daily temperature testing, symptom screening) of any early signs. If they develop symptoms, they should be tested and managed according to the severity of the symptoms.
  • No contacts must be tested unless if they develop symptoms.

Quarantining for contacts of confirmed cases of Covid -19

  • All quarantining is to be stopped with immediate effect for both vaccinated and unvaccinated contacts.
  • No testing for Covid-19 is required, irrespective of the risk exposure unless the contact becomes symptomatic.

Isolation

  • The isolation rules below are applicable to both vaccinated and unvaccinated, as well as high- and low-risk individuals.
  • Return to work from day-10 onwards must, as always, take into consideration the individual’s clinical status. Only those patients well enough to work should do so.

Asymptomatic Individuals

  • No isolation period is required.
  • Self-observation to be conducted for 5-7 days, for development of any symptoms with enhanced precautions, including, avoiding attending settings where many people gather, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Mild disease

Mild disease refers to persons who have symptoms and have tested positive, but who do not require hospitalisation and who do not experience shortness of breath, dyspnoea or abnormal chest imaging.

Mild disease symptoms and signs include, but are not limited to the following: fever, cough, sore throat, malaise, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of taste and smell.

  • Isolation period is maintained at 8 days.
  • The person in this category must wear a mask at all times (even at home, work and all public spaces), for the duration of the 8-days period of isolation.
  • Where a healthcare worker returns to work after day 8, such a worker must wear a N95 mask at all times, and must at all times avoid contact with extremely high-risk patients (especially severely immune-compromised patients).
  • There is no need for a Covid-19 test (either PCR or antigen test) to be performed prior to returning to work after the 8-days isolation period.
  • For mild cases, isolation beyond 8 days must be supported by a medical report.

Severe Disease

Severe disease refers to persons who test positive and have exacerbated symptoms, i.e, shortness of breath, dyspnoea, chest pain and abnormal chest imaging, and who require hospitalisation to manage the clinical presentation.

  • Isolation period is maintained at 10 days after clinical stability is achieved.
  • The person in this category must wear a mask at all times (even at home, work and all public spaces), for the duration of the 10 days period of isolation.
  • Where a health care worker returns to work after day 10, such a worker must wear a N95 mask at all times, and must at all times avoid contact with extremely high-risk patients (especially severely immune-compromised patients).
  • There is no need for a Covid-19 test (either PCR or antigen test) to be performed prior to returning to work after the 10-day isolation period.
  • For severe cases, isolation beyond 10 days must be supported by the medical report.

Return to work

All persons who have been infected and have been in isolation, must be ready to return to work after completing the mandatory period of isolation as above, and no further testing is required after either 8 or 10 days of isolation.

Please click here to view the circular.

For more information:
NEASA Media Department
media@neasa.co.za

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