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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Covid 19: Health Department clarifies the wearing of face masks by children at school, says wearing of face masks remains mandatory in SA

THE South African Health Department unpacked new Covid ruIes. Initially exempting children from wearing facemask in the classrooms and general indoor gatherings, the health department issued a corrective to confirm they could only take off their mask when outdoors in playgrounds or sports fields.

The new regulations came on Thursday  at a time when South Africa has reported a new wave of covid 19 in the country, the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) warned in late April.

The plan for children to wear masks in school is part of the government’s plans to limit the spread of covid 19.

“The Department would also like to bring to the public attention of the confusion created by unfortunate and regrettable human error in the media statement issued yesterday about the removal of face mask wearing by children at school. This is not part of the gazetted health regulations, and is therefore retracted to avoid any misunderstanding of the regulations,” the department said.

“Therefore, children like other people are expected to continue complying with the provisions of Regulation 16A on face masks in the classrooms and general indoor gatherings, unlike outdoors in playgrounds and sports fields.”

The Department added that face masks remain an effective non-pharmaceutical intervention against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and it was more relevant now as the number of COVID-19 positive cases is rising once again.

“The Department of Health has been receiving a lot of feedback from the public since announcing the extension of public consultation process together with the introduction of limited health regulations meant to manage the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and future notifiable medical conditions. We would like to urge all South Africans to continue to share their feedback because we believe it will assist the process as we move forward to finalise the regulations.”

South Africa, is officially the continent’s most affected country by Covid-19. Here, less than 45% of the adult population is fully vaccinated out of a population of nearly 60 million. The country has officially recorded more than 3.8 million cases and some 100,350 deaths.

In early March, the country had gone 48 hours without a single Covid-19-related death, the first time this had happened since 2020. President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced in early April that all legal restrictions related to the pandemic would be lifted.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two new Omicron sub-variants, whose virulences are yet to be determined, are causing the new wave of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“South African scientists who identified Omicron late last year have now reported two more Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, as the cause of a spike in cases in South Africa,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. On that same day, more than 6 000 new cases were reported in South Africa. Two new Omicron sub-variants are believed to be driving an increase in cases.

AFP. Additional reporting by INSIDE EDUCATION

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