Experts urge Phaahla to end quarantine, contact tracing


The South African government’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19 has now recommended halting contact tracing and quarantine.

The MAC wrote the briefing note to Minister of Health Joe Paahla in which it aims to respond to the statement of the problem: “Are quarantine and contact tracing useful measures for the containment of Covid -19 currently? “

The note was dated December 16, 2021 and was shared on Twitter on weekends.

According to the latest MAC advice, the definition of a high-risk contact is based on “an outdated understanding of the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 transmission” (Covid-19). The memo also emphasizes the negative impact of quarantine on personal life, income and the economy in general.

“The definition focuses on the propagation of droplets while ignoring the spread of aerosols, which can occur over distances of 1 to 1.5 meters, nor does it require such a close temporal association with the index case as the droplet spread, ”the MAC said in the note. .

The MAC added that the outdated definition also ignores the increased intrinsic transmissibility of later variants of concern – think of Omnicron, which is highly infectious but less virulent – compared to the ancestral strain, as well as the fact that pre-existing immunity (from the vaccination and / or natural infection) increases the risk of transmission dynamics.

MAC highlights damaging impact of Covid-19 quarantine

Additionally, the MAC noted that quarantine is not feasible in many social contexts due to its “substantial economic and social burden” in the current economic climate. The MAC listed the burdens as follows:

  • Significant decrease in staffing in health facilities and other frontline or essential workers (eg fragile health care facilities, police forces, which can threaten the integrity of these facilities;
  • Significant reduction in economic and government activities due to high levels of staff absenteeism.

“At the individual level, the consequences of a prolonged quarantine include loss of income, employment and school time,” noted the MAC.

Here is the document:

“We propose that the quarantine be interrupted with immediate effect for contacts of Covid-19 cases. This also applied to vaccinated and unvaccinated contacts. No Covid-19 test is required regardless of the risk of exposure, unless contact becomes symptomatic, ”the MAC said.

“We also propose that the tracing of contracts be stopped,” concluded the MAC.


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