New rules around quarantine and self-isolation in South Africa

What you need to know

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has revised the recommended isolation and quarantine period for South Africans who have tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement on Friday, Mkhize said that the recommended isolation period for patients with confirmed Covid-19 infection has now been reduced from 14 to 10 days.

This revision is based on evidence that most patients with a mild Covid-19 infection continue to shed the virus from their upper airways for approximately seven to 12 days, he said.

“The presence of detectable virus when testing does not necessarily imply infectiousness. It has been proven that in mild cases, virus cultures are generally only positive for 8-9 days after symptom onset,” said the minister.

“The duration of infectiousness in patients with severe disease (i.e. requiring admission due to clinical instability) is less well established. In general, patients with severe disease may continue to shed (the) virus at higher levels for longer periods than patients with mild disease.”

On Friday  Mkhize also published a new directive which details the self-isolation and quarantine criteria that should be followed for people returning to South Africa.

In the context of the regulations, these criteria are specific to people re-entering the country from abroad. However, they also provide clarity around what is expected of people who are self-isolating at home.

https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2020/03/27/tested-positive-for-covid-19-or-someone-in-your-home-has-read-this/

These criteria include the following:

  • A separate well-ventilated bedroom with a bathroom and toilet, or a residence that is not shared with persons who are not subject to quarantine;
  • Meals should be served in the room in disposable utensils or utensils that are separate and are washed properly if there are persons who are not subject to quarantine;
  • Support from friends or family that can facilitate the drop off of food and medicine at the gate if they are not able to make use of online shopping facilities and contactless deliveries;
  • A thermometer that will allow him or her to measure his or her temperature daily;
  • Access to the internet and a phone that allows the daily reporting of symptoms;
  • Access to a private physician that he or she can contact should he or she require medical advice or care; and
  • A contact number where he or she can be reached during the period of self – quarantine or self -isolation.
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