Home News South Africa backs off and resumes isolation of contact cases

South Africa backs off and resumes isolation of contact cases


Just days after the announcement of the abandonment of the isolation of contact cases in South Africa, the Ministry of Health backtracked and put its measure on hold.

In a press release published on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, the government explains its turnaround. “The Department of Health has been inundated with questions and comments from the media, stakeholders and the public,” reads. Faced with this situation, it was decided to “put the implementation of this measure on hold.”

Last Sunday, the ministry announced to cease, with immediate effect, the policy of traceability and isolation of contact cases. The policy of tracing contact cases in the event of contamination was however retained in certain cases, for example in assembly contexts or during the multiplication of strong clusters.

This decision was made because “isolation strategies are no longer appropriate” in the face of “a hyper-contagious variant like Omicron”. Reducing the number of people in isolation also reduces the impact on the country’s activity. South Africa was the birthplace of the Omicron variant.

Isolation maintained for infected people

Another argument put forward by the South African authorities to put an end to the systematic tracing and isolation of people with contact cases, the high level of immunity achieved in the country thanks to vaccination and asymptomatic people.

With this measure, a person declared as a contact case no longer had to isolate themselves but had to continue their daily activities while seriously monitoring any sign of contamination. Daily temperature readings and tests had to be done if symptoms appeared. For those infected, the isolation measures remained unchanged. They should remain isolated for eight to ten days depending on the severity of the symptoms.

The end of isolation in South Africa had surprised, since the country is officially the most affected on the African continent and has more than 90,000 deaths and 3.4 million cases. In France, the Omicron variant represented shortly before Christmas 20% of Covid-19 cases identified. However, in Paris, the variant would represent more than one in three contamination.