PRETORIA – The reccommendation made by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) that contact tracing and qaurantining be stopped is based on the rationale that the practice is impractical under the current economic climate, according to a professor from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
Speaking to Salaamedia, acting executive director at the NICD Prof. Adrian Puren highlighted the effect quarantining has on the workplace as one of the reasons why the MAC advised Health Minister Joe Phaahla to drop the practice of quarantining those who came into contact with people infected by COVID-19.
“The practicalities of quarantining people at a personal level and economic level means that if they have to be at work now, [they] are outside of work and cannot fulfill their obligations. They are away from work and then of course the workplace [is] now short-staffed because multiple people are in quarantine and they can go on to multiple quarantine periods and it certainly has an effect,” he said.
The MAC, which is co-chaired by Professors Koleka Mlisana and Marian Jacobs, made the recommendation in a letter to the Minister of Health. In the letter, the MAC also cited an increase of immunity as one of the reasons for quarantining of contacts to be dropped.
“The proportion of people with immunity to COVID-19 (from infection and/or vaccination) has risen substantially, exceeding 60-80% in several serosurveys [measuring of antibody levels against infectious diseases].”
“Crucially, it appears that efforts to eliminate and/or contain the virus are not likely to be successful. Therefore, it is critical that the role of containment efforts like quarantine and contact tracing is re-evaluated.”
However, Puren stressed, contacts must continue to practice existing non-pharmaceautical interventions such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing even if contact tracing and quarantining is halted.
Julie Alli spoke to Professor Adrian Puren, acting executive director of the National Institute for Communicable Disseases (NICD). Listen to the full discussion here: