Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)


- Shorné Bennie and Jade le Roux

With the easing of many Covid-19 lockdown restrictri­ctions and protocols under the adjusted alert level 1, city doctors are urging the community to take control of their own health and ensure they get their Covid-19 booster shots or vaccinatio­ns timeously.

On Monday, cabinet approved changes to the adjusted alert level 1 lockdown, reducing the isolation period for those who test positive from ten days to seven. Those testing positive with no symptoms are no longer required to isolate, and contacts do not have to isolate, unless they develop symptoms.

Cabinet has also approved the end of rotational learning, calling for the resumption of full-time learning in primary and secondary schools. The one metre social distancing requiremen­t has also been removed.

Minister Mondli Gungubele said these changes were implemente­d based on the trajectory of the pandemic and the levels of vaccinatio­n in the country.

“The rationale for these amendments is informed by the proportion of people with immunity to Covid-19 which has risen substantia­lly, exceeding 60-80% in several sero-surveys,” Gungubele said in a media statement. He also confirmed South Africa has exited the fourth wave.

“Government commends all South Africans who continue to observe Covid-19 regulation­s and protocols. We also remind those who are yet to get vaccinated to go for their Covid-19 vaccinatio­n and continue observing basic health protocols to prevent the transmissi­on of the virus.”

A well-known city doctor has weighed in on the easing of the lockdown restrictio­ns, saying the community now has to take it upon themselves to remain protected against Covid-19 and to get vaccinated.

“It is important that we remember that Covid-19 has not left. It is important to get vaccinated as it is the first line of defense. Get vaccinated so that we can return to normalcy.

“The best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 is to be responsibl­e for yourself, follow all Covid-19 rules. We must learn from other countries; learn that Covid-19 has not left and that our best guarding mechanism is to get vaccinated,” emphasised the doctor.

Chief Clinical Officer of Mediclinic South Africa Dr. Gerrit De Villiers said that vaccinatio­n is a critical step for all people in South Africa.

“Mediclinic remains of the view that Covid-19 vaccinatio­n is a critical step for all people in South Africa to protect their own health and those around them,”said De Villiers.

Mediclinic Pietermari­tzburg encourages all those eligible for booster shots to get them. Booster shots are administer­ed 180 days after a second dose of the Pfizer vaccinatio­n, and 60 days after the first Johnson and Johnson Covid19 vaccine. Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is encouraged to do so.

Vaccinatio­n sites providing the Covid-19 vaccines in Pietermari­tzburg include: Mediclinic Hospital, open from Monday to Friday 8am to 3.30pm. East Boom Clinic, AF Wood Hall and Harry Gwala Drive through are all open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. Truro Hall is also open for vaccinatio­ns on weekdays from 8am to 4pm and over weekends from 8am to 3pm.

Parents in the community also welcomed the ruling for the return of full-time attendance in schools. Parent Hester Day said that her children were excited to return to the classroom.

“My children returned to school three weeks ago and they were super keen to be back in the classroom. They really missed their friends and we don’t realise how their mental health was affected by not seeing their friends,” said Day.

Surie Govender said that she was happy that the kids are back in the classroom, but precaution­s still need to be taken.

“It is good that learners are returning to the classroom full time. However, I believe social distancing rules should still be adhered to. Teachers and staff must be responsibl­e and inform the school if they have been exposed to the virus. Parents must also inform the school if their children are unwell and ensure that the necessary precaution­s are taken,” said Govender.

Many city schools have also expressed joy at being able to reopen as normal at the beginning of this year. Pietermari­tzburg Girls’ High School said they felt hopeful about reclaiming “some semblance of normalcy this year”, especially being able to commence their full programme of extra-mural activities.

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