The Covid-19 regulations have been lifted and everyone can now throw their masks away and attend events. But this does not mean the pandemic is over. The virus could still mutate into a new variant, said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
COVID INFECTIONS DECREASE DUE TO HIGH IMMUNITY
The number of active Covid infections has decreased in the past week. This includes deaths and new infections. As of Friday night, the country recorded 380 new infections and 16 deaths.
Lower levels of death and hospitalisations were observed in the most recent Covid-19 wave. But this could be because of a large population being immune to the virus, said the NICD.
“High levels of population immunity are likely a major contributor to the reduction in the burden of severe illness and death in South Africa.”NICD executive director Professor Adrian Puren.
A recent study by the South African National Blood Service estimates that 98% of the population have detectable antibodies of Covid-19.
These antibodies are a result of infection, vaccination or a combination of the two, said Puren.
HOW TO AVOID GETTING INFECTED WITH NO REGULATIONS
Regulations have been dropped and people can now host events and gatherings. But the NICD encourages people to avoid getting infected.
The first and highly recommended preventative measure is to get a Covid-19 vaccine, Puren said.
“A South African study found that among individuals vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation for Covid-19 was 74% at 14 to 27 days post-vaccination, and 72% at one to two months.”
The Pfizer vaccine has an effectiveness of 88% at 14 to 27 days and 70% at one to two months. The effectiveness is at 67% for five months or longer post-vaccine.
“The vaccine is safe and freely available to all South Africans aged above 12 years. Even if people who have had previous infection with [Covid], vaccination has been shown to confer substantial protective benefit against severe disease and death.”
DIDN’T GET THE VACCINE? THERE ARE OTHER PREVENTIONS
Those who did not get the vaccine but have a respiratory illness could do the following to avoid transmission:
• Stay at home until symptoms resolve
• Avoid close contact with others especially those at high risk for severe COVID-19
• Avoid close contact such as kissing or sharing drinks
• Cover mouth and nose with tissue or cough or sneeze into an elbow
• Wash hands with soap and water or disinfect with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly
• Limit the number of visitors
• Wipe down surfaces that are frequently touched or shared with a standard household disinfectant
Additional preventative measures include the following:
• Wearing a well-fitting mask when attending gatherings.
• Avoiding large gatherings, crowds, and poorly ventilated spaces.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water
• If you develop an illness, seek medical care as soon as possible.
“If South Africans intend to travel outside of South Africa, they must ensure they are aware of any requirements of the countries they travel to. Travellers should assess the COVID-19 transmission situation in countries where they travel to and manage risks accordingly,” Puren said.