On the 7th of August 2020 the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Lawrence Mkhize, issued two new directives. The first directive, issued in terms of regulation 3(3) issued under section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act No. 57 of 2002 (“Disaster Management Act”), provided the new criteria that will guide the determination of alert levels. The second directive, issued in terms of regulation 4(10) issued under section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, amended the directives issued in Notice No. 796 published in Government Gazette No. 43533 of 17 July 2020 (“Government Notice”).
These alert levels will determine the levels of restriction to be applied nationally or provincially during the continuance of the national state of disaster. The alert levels, as provided in the directive, are as follows:
- Alert Level 1 – indicates a low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness;
- Alert Level 2 – indicates a moderate Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness;
- Alert Level 3 – indicates a moderate Covid-19 spread with a moderate health system readiness;
- Alert Level 4 – indicates a moderate to a high Covid-19 spread with a low to moderate health system readiness; and
- Alert Level 5 – indicates a high Covid-19 spread with a low health system readiness.
The directive also provides that the Ministerial Advisory Committee, as appointed by the Minister of Health, must advise the Minister of Health regarding which alert level should be declared nationally, provincially, in a metropolitan area, or a district, when taking into account:
- the epidemiological trends in the number of tests done, number of persons screened, number of positive cases, number of recoveries and the demographic profile of the positive cases of Covid-19 infections;
- the health system capacity, which includes the number of facilities available to support Covid-19, bed-occupancy levels for the various levels of care, human resource capacity, and equipment and related resources in a specified area in order to respond to the disease burden; and
- any other factor that would influence the level of infection, hospitalisation and mortality.
In the second directive issued with the aim to amend the directives issued in the Government Notice, the Minister of Health provided new provisions with regard to the testing, isolation and recovery periods for individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The regulations specifically provide for the insertion of paragraphs 21A, 21B and 21C in the directives in order to cover both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons. The amendments provide the following:
A symptomatic person
- A person who tests positive for Covid-19 and is symptomatic with mild disease (not requiring hospitalisation for Covid-19) must be isolated for a period of at least 10 days from the date when the symptoms set in.
- A person may de-isolate 10 days after the onset of symptoms, provided that the person no longer has fever and his or her other symptoms have improved.
- A symptomatic person with moderate-severe disease must be isolated for 10 days after recovery when the person no longer requires supplemental oxygen and is clinically stable.
An asymptomatic person
An asymptomatic person who tests positive for Covid-19 must be isolated for 10 days from the day of his or her positive test.
The directive confirms that repeat testing is not required in order for a person to de-isolate.
The National Coronavirus Command Council is expected to meet later this week, in order to review the national lockdown regulation and it is widely expected that a relaxation in rules is to follow. VDMA will inform its clients of the scope of any amendments should any amendments be announced.
Published: 14 August 2020