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Health department to recommend easing of restrictions in travel and leisure to NCCC

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The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will hear the new recommendations for travel, leisure and tourism next week.

Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

THE Department of Health will propose an easing of a number of Covid-19 restrictions to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), which will include reviewing regulations in travel, leisure and tourism.

Health minister Joe Phaahla said during a media briefing on Friday that the department has been revising the current set of Covid-19 regulations and is ready to present the new recommendations next week.

“The proposal will include amendments for travel requirements which could make it easier to travel in and out of South Africa. We hope that the reviewed regulations will help guide the reopening of social activities, especially in the leisure and tourism areas,” he said.

Phaahla said some countries around the world that have vaccinated over 70% of their population have been able to ease some of their Covid-19 restrictions.

“Countries that have reached up to 70- 90% are now able to do without many of the health measures. The more people vaccinate, the more people we can open up the economy and the more we can have social interaction and recreational activities,” he said.

South Africa has enough Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 70% of its population, he continued.

The issue of vaccination mandates “remains a difficult topic,” said Phaahla, and a team of senior government officials have been leading discussions on it and mask mandates.

The country, over the past week, has seen a 20% reduction of new cases. The average of 16,000 new cases per week has reduced to 12,800 cases per week.

On Thursday, 1,853 new Covid-19 cases were reported, representing a 6.5% positivity rate.

The Omicron Covid-19 variant continues to dominate new infections, representing 99% of cases.

“A major disappointment is that the rate of infections has not declined as steadily as we had wished for by this time. We had hoped we would be at a 5% positivity rate.

“There is a plateau in the curve of infections instead of a complete flattening or decline. Over the last four weeks, the positivity rate has lingered between 7-10%. We are hoping to see a more sustained decline with the positivity rate going below 5%,” said Phaahla.

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