Health News

COVID-19 Regulations: Children must wear masks at school

Fifth wave: Plenty to learn from previous COVID-19 cycles
Children must wear masks at school. (Photo: Freepik)
Written by Kalay Nair

The Department of Health announced on Thursday that children must continue wearing masks at school and other general indoor gatherings.

On Wednesday night when it released new limited COVID-19 regulations, it stated that children would not have to wear masks at school. But late Thursday it retracted the statement, and said the confusion was created by “regrettable human error”.

“Children like other people are expected to continue complying with the provisions of Regulation 16A on face masks in the classrooms and general indoor gatherings, unlike outdoors in playgrounds and sports fields,” the DoH said in the statement.

It reiterated that face masks are an effective non-pharmaceutical intervention against the spread of COVID-19, and said it was especially crucial now as the number of COVID-19 positive cases has started to rise again.

“The department reminds the public that vaccination services against Covid remain available and accessible, and we can mitigate the impact of the anticipated 5th wave and emerging variants.”

The limited restrictions, which come into effect on Thursday, mainly focus on wearing face masks, gatherings and persons entering the country.

“South Africans must continue wearing face masks in indoor public spaces. However, this does not apply to children at school. Under these limited regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask,” the Health Department said in a statement.

At any indoor and outdoor gatherings, venues can accommodate people to a maximum of 50% of their capacity if every attendee is vaccinated against COVID-19 and can produce a valid vaccination certificate. A valid negative COVID-19 test results not older than 72 hours prior to the date of the gathering is also acceptable.

If these requirements can’t be met, attendance at indoor gatherings will be limited to 1000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller. Attendance at an outdoor gathering will be limited to 2000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller.

International travellers entering SA must be vaccinated

All international travellers must be able to provide a valid vaccination certificate, or a valid negative PCR COVID-19 test results not older than 72 hours before the date of departure. If the traveller is unable to provide either then they must take an antigen test at the Port of Entry.

“If the person tests positive for COVID-19 in the antigen test, the traveller will still be admitted into the country, but if the traveller is experiencing symptoms of COVID­19, they must self-isolate for a period of ten days after admission into South Africa.”

However, these requirements don’t apply to travellers under 12-years-old or daily commuters from neighbouring countries.

The Department said despite the current process to source public comments on the health regulations, ways to manage the pandemic without invoking the state of  national disaster remained critical.

COVID-19 remains a life-threatening disease, and the country is not yet out of the woods.  The only way we can protect ourselves and our loved ones against this pandemic and the current rising number of positive cases is through vaccination and adhering to preventative measures at all times. “

The department further urged fully vaccinated people to get booster shots to increase their immunity.

The period for public comment on health regulations relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions; Public Measures in Points of Entry; Management of Human Remains and Environmental Health has been extended by three months until July 5.  Comments can be sent to legalreviews@health.gov.za. – Health-e News

About the author

Kalay Nair

Kalay has worked in several news mediums including wire journalism and broadcast news. She was a parliamentary reporter at the SA Press Association before a stint at the Gulf News in Dubai. She joined the prime-time news team at eTV when she returned to South Africa. She was also part of the eNCA launch team, where she managed a national television newsroom, oversaw a team of reporters and planned major news events. She has a diploma in journalism from DUT, a certificate in financial journalism from Rhodes University; was a CNN fellow, and completed the WAN IFRA Media Management Online Training programme in 2020.

Leave a Comment