Home South African SA health expert concerned about contact tracing, quarantine measures

SA health expert concerned about contact tracing, quarantine measures

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“We have to keep maintaining these prevention measures, rather than relying on trying to treat conditions when people get to the hospital.”

File picture: AP Photo/John Minchillo

WHILE contact tracing and quarantine have long been defined as vital elements of containing the coronavirus, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Professor of Public Health, Mosa Moshabela, says the country has lowered its guard on this front.

According to Moshabela, when transmission is high, as it is in South Africa, it means you are not doing well in terms of prevention, which can cause the infection rate to run rampant.

Moshabela said: “We have relaxed in terms of contact tracing and quarantine of contacts. We often think that things cannot get worse but actually Delta is showing us that things can get worse. In the previous two waves, the decline was quite rapid, sharp and straight down.

“Now we are seeing that in the middle of it, it’s kind of slowing and has gone tangential to the side, instead of coming straight down. It is for that reason that we have to keep maintaining these prevention measures and the containment of infections with contact tracing and quarantining of contacts, rather than rely solely on trying to treat conditions when people get to the hospital.”

According to the World Health Organization, the benchmark for a successful Covid-19 contact-tracing operation is to trace and quarantine 80% of close contacts within three days of a case being confirmed, a goal few countries achieve.

Meanwhile, last month Independent Media reported that key components of Covid-19 contact tracking and tracing were “put on hold”.

“It would be interesting to find out how they’re continuing to help the physical tracers locate the cases on the ground, because the system used for that has been instructed to switch off, the Bluetooth app has also been instructed for switch off,” the source said.

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