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Health dept extends period for public comment on health regulations to April 24

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The initial deadline was 15 April 15. However, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the new deadline is set for April 24.

Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

THE DEPARTMENT of Health has extended the deadline for public comment on the Covid-19 draft regulations by a week. The initial deadline was 15 April 15. However, the new deadline is set for April 24.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla briefed Parliament on Thursday and said the extension would allow for further public comment on the proposed amendment to the National Health Act and Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions.

“Since the breakout of Covid-19 in March 2020, government has looked at ways in which they could provide guidance to the public in terms of public health measures. As the severity has been reducing, the government has found it necessary to then exit the use of the State of Disaster Management Act,” he said.

The Health Department published the new draft regulations on 15 March. Phaahla said the regulations were an amendment to the regulations relating to the surveillance and the control of notifiable medical conditions, which were published in 2017.

The new draft regulations were based on the National Health Act, 2003 (Act No. 61 of 2003) and published under Government Notice No. 1434 of 15 December 2017.

“We went back to the National Health Act and the regulations which were promulgated in 2017 on notifiable medical conditions, and we used that as a base for which we could provide alternative public health measures.

“The public may have a misconception that these are completely new regulations. There have been some amendments, but it is basically the regulations that have been in effect since 2017,” he said.

Phaahla continued saying the Health Department has no desire to unnecessarily control people’s lives.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and civil rights organisation AfriForum have submitted official objections to the proposed new regulations on managing Covid-19 and other communicable diseases.

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