The wearing of face masks is still recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its latest set of guidelines on the pandemic, particularly in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces and given the current global spread of the virus.
The Daily Maverick reports that the agency also advised the wearing of masks where a local outbreak has been confirmed, where there are rising hospital admission levels, and where levels of vaccination coverage and immunity in the community suggest increased risk.
Several countries are currently experiencing large outbreaks of Covid-19 in several countries, however, the situation is stable in SA.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said no new regulations, mask mandates or lockdown orders were on the horizon, although the provincial Health Departments had been instructed to step up testing. Wastewater testing for viral particles would also be stepped up and wastewater of planes arriving from areas with high levels of infection would also be tested.
Guidelines for isolation
A patient with Covid-19 testing negative on a rapid antigen test can safely leave isolation; but without testing, new guidelines suggest 10 days of isolation from the date of the onset of symptoms. Previously, the WHO recommended patients isolate for another three days after they become symptom-free.
For those who test positive for Covid-19 but do not have any signs or symptoms, the WHO now suggests five days of isolation in the absence of testing, compared to 10 days previously.
People without symptoms were less likely to transmit the virus than those with symptoms, said the WHO.
Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir-ritonavir) is strongly recommended for patients with mild or moderate Covid-19 who are at high risk of hospital admission, and while the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has received an application for the drug’s registration the outcome is not yet known.
South African situation
The subvariant of Omicron, known as XBB.1.5, has been identified as highly transmissible, but the latest risk assessment by the WHO said it seemed to be missing the factor seen in variants causing severe Covid-19. The organisation has called for more study and data.
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