A number of changes to lockdown restrictions were announced last week including the end to rational school timetables, isolation and contact tracing guideline changes and the resumption of some sports with the addition of spectators.
From the start of this week all pupils and teachers have had to be at school full-time from Monday to Friday because of the removal of the one-meter social distancing in schools. Those who test positive with no symptoms don’t have to isolate, if you test positive with symptoms, the isolation period has been reduced from 10 to seven days and contacts do not have to isolate unless they develop symptoms.
Although these changes were implemented, South Africans are still encouraged to adhere to other measures to stop the spread of the virus including getting vaccinated and booster shots, the continued use of masks, washing and sanitising of hands, maintaining good ventilation and taking the necessary precautions.
Parents are also urged to take their children for vaccination or use the opportunity of vaccinating their children in schools when the opportunity does arise. The departments of basic education and health are hoping to introduce an in-school vaccination programme but this is still being considered because it requires parental consent.
Although Covid-19 in younger persons is sometimes milder than in adults, some youth infected with the coronavirus can get severe lung infections, become very sick and require hospitalisation. The youth can also have complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome that may require intensive care or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being, said Natalie Watlington, spokesperson for the Western Cape Health Department (WCHD).
Health experts at the WCED are unanimous in that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, for everyone, said Ms Watlington.
“During the Omicron wave, the risk of death in breakthrough cases in the Western Cape was nearly four times lower than in unvaccinated cases, and the risk of all hospital admissions in unvaccinated cases was twice as high as vaccinated cases.”
Ms Watlington stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to stop transmission of the virus which means the virus has a chance to mutate further and create more variants that might prove more infectious or resistant to the available vaccines and therapies.
“Fewer overall infections among the population means less chance of severe infection and death in the community and of dangerous coronavirus variants emerging.”
After receiving his booster at the DP Marais hospital in Retreat, Virgil Appolis, 20, said he got vaccinated to make a difference in his community.
Simone Martin, 24, from Grassy Park got her booster shot last week and encouraged others to do the same. “Everyone in my household is vaccinated. Covid has not gone away so I chose to vaccinate to protect me, my family and others around me,” she said.