TOPSHOT – Health workers wait to administer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on February 17, 2021. (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 2:11 PM PT – Sunday, December 19, 2021
A South African government panel said the Omicron variant is mild enough that there’s no need for further quarantines and contact tracing.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee of South Africa said the proportion of people who are immune to COVID-19 has risen dramatically, stating there’s no need for more restrictions. The panel additionally said COVID quarantines are no longer feasible from economic and social viewpoints.
This comes as the ratio of hospitalizations to cases has dropped by 30 percent in South Africa, with doctors saying the new strain is so mild that most people don’t feel many side effects. Doctors added many South Africans with Omicron hardly notice they’re infected.
“We are experiencing it as a much milder form,” said Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association. “The idea is because it’s a mild disease, it can easily be missed and if you can make the doctors understand on the other hand that that person sitting in front of you who might only come in with a complaint of a slight cold, might actually be Omicron.”
The Ministerial Advisory Committee said many patients are beginning to avoid testing for COVID-19 because it’s burdensome and expensive.