Ministarial Advisory Committe on COVID-19 Proposes Halt on Quarantining

Addressed 16 December 2021, The Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19 wrote a letter addressed to DR MJ Phaahla, the Honourable Minister of Health, addressing quarantining and contact tracing.

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Health, The Advisory Committee on COVID-19 addressed concerns surrounding quarantining and contact tracing and questioned its effectiveness in a South African setting.

Quarantining refers to the separation or restriction of activities of persons who are believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. Quarantine is only likely to be effective and/or practical in certain circumstances, and is an extreme, though sometimes necessary, control measure for a disease outbreak.

In their review, they state: “It is one potential control measure among many options, including isolation, and widespread testing campaigns. It does not generally have a role for endemic disease, where control is not possible.”

In their review, they further state, “Quarantine is currently not an effective measure for containing SARS-CoV-2’s spread for the following reasons:”

Download/Read the full document here: Quarantining and Contact Tracing

Stating clearly in their evidence for review is that quarantining and contact tracing is of negligible public health benefit in a South African Setting.

Quarantining and Contact Tracing to be discontinued immediately

In their conclusion for their rationale for recommendations, they continue to state:

As current testing only identifies a small minority of all COVID-19 cases, quarantining contacts of these cases serves no demonstrable general public health purpose. Furthermore, quarantining is not feasible in many social settings, and is associated with both significant strain on staffing levels and costs to the individual and to the broader society.”

Since quarantining contacts of cases no longer serves a public health role, identifying contacts of COVID-19 cases (i.e. contact tracing) equally serves very little role. In addition, contact tracing is impractical once the COVID-19 caseload rises (due to the large number of contacts that have to be identified for each case), and is extremely burdensome in its use of human and financial resources.”

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