SA’s new Covid-19 rules: No isolation unless you have symptoms – then only 7 days

Business Insider SA
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  • Coronavirus isolation rules are about to change significantly, the government announced on Monday night.
  • If you don't have symptoms, you won't have to isolate at all after testing positive.
  • Those who both test positive and show symptoms will only be required to isolate for seven days, not ten.
  • Enough people are now immune to the coronavirus to allow for the changes, the government said.
  • For more stories go to

South Africans who test positive for the coronavirus but show no symptoms of Covid-19 will no longer be required to self-isolate, the government announced on Monday night.

For those who do show Covid-19 symptoms (often described as similar to a cold or flu since the Omicron variant became dominant), the isolation period will be reduced from the current 10 days to seven days.

The close contacts of those who test positive will not be required to isolate unless they themselves also develop symptoms.

Cabinet had approved the changes based on data including seroprevalence surveys (which check for antibodies to identify those who have had the coronavirus) which showed that the "proportion of people with immunity to Covid-19" is at levels of 60% to 80%, the Presidency said in a statement.

The changes were, it said, "[b]ased on the trajectory of the pandemic and the levels of vaccination in the country".

According to the latest government statistics, 46.55% of the adult population has been vaccinated to date. Roughly two-thirds of those between 18 and 34 have not yet been vaccinated.

Directives on the changes are due "in the coming days".

In December, South Africa radically changed the rules on self-isolation by doing away entirely with contact tracing, and saying that asymptomatic carriers would face no restrictions. Those rules were internationally hailed, before being withdrawn again just days later.

See also | SA drew global praise for new self-isolation rules. They lasted 5 days.

During that short period, people who tested positive but were asymptomatic were asked to self-monitor, and to avoid large groups of people.

That applied to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The change had been based on mid-December advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), which said that there was little point in forcing asymptomatic people into isolation, while doing so came at the cost of lost income, lost school time, and institutions such as hospitals struggling for lack of key workers.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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