Umm Muhammed Umar
South Africans breathed a collective sigh of relief earlier this week when the announcement that face masks would no longer be required to be worn in public was announced. There is also no longer any limit to the number of attendees at public gatherings. Further, neither a vaccine certificate, nor a negative PCR test will be required to enter South Africa. Radio Islam spoke to the Progressive Health Forum’s Dr Aslam Dasoo.
Dr Dasoo said that the regulations repealed, should not even have been place up until now. He said, “We’ve known for months now, perhaps even as soon as the Delta wave ended, that our masking strategy was not helping (to) stop transmission.” He added, “unless you’re wearing a medical grade mask, and you’re in an area where there’s a big concentration of the virus, it’s really not much use.” Dr Dasoo said that the regulatory regime had been difficult and had caused a lot of unhappiness because it was often not based on science, but had frequently been enacted based on the government’s own interests.
Dr Dasoo asserted that the other regulations, such as social distancing, limitations on gatherings and restrictions on travel should also have been done away with a long time ago. He added, “We have noticed a step change in the pandemic with the arrival of the Omicron variant. And also, given that everyone is infected, was infected, or has had the vaccine, there’s a high degree of population immunity now, and so the virus is not as lethal as it used to be.” He said that while we were exiting the emergency phase of the pandemic, the pandemic was not over as yet. He said, “We might be able to say that later this year, if there’s no new variant, and this pattern continues, but then we’ll be moving into endemicity.” Endemicity means that the virus will start behaving more and more like the seasonal viruses that we have seen, because it’s going to be around, and not eliminated.
Dr Dasoo explained that doing away with the COVID regulations was extremely important for the economy. He said, “we’ve lost 2 million jobs, livelihoods have been lost, and the amount of debt that can be counted, the effects of that over the years, will dwarf what we’ve seen with COVID.” He added, “So, we need to get the economy moving, people have to be supported again, and we have to build up the capabilities and resources to get more than half the population – which is now officially poverty stricken- to get through this period, and to reduce that poverty level, and I don’t know how we can do this with restrictions in place.” Dr Dasoo further added that restrictions on travel being lifted was extremely important for the tourism industry, as it brought in huge amounts of foreign exchange, and was responsible for maintaining a huge number of jobs.