Health minister says locals may have ‘underpinning immunity’ to virus.
There is no reason for South Africa’s borders to stay closed, neither is there a requirement for arriving tourists to be quarantined for several weeks as visitors, albeit infected, wouldn’t cause a huge outbreak, say experts.
As the country is seeing a gentle decline in Covid-19 infections, there seems to be no medical reasons for the borders to stay closed because the virus is now locally transmitted.
This was something the ministerial advisory committee would likely recommend to government, said member and vaccinologist Professor Shabir Madhi.
Speaking during a recent webinar, he said albeit international visitors were infected, they posed little threat had they followed the pharmaceutical interventions put in situ .
“Opening the borders probably will have a nominal effect in terms of the longer term trajectory of this outbreak.
“Having a couple of visitors encounter , albeit they’re infected with the virus, isn’t getting to cause massive outbreaks.
“That is that the advice I’d give [to government] and that i expect many other members would offer similar advice. We aren’t during this kind of space to contain viral transmission, which is once we need border closure,” Madhi said.
Wits University of faculty of Governance Professor Alex van den Heever said the virus was now a “localised disease” which might not be fed by a world tourist.
“Someone from overseas isn’t getting to feed the epidemic again because it’s already there. South Africa is during a position where it’s to manage the danger of transmission with an opened economy which are often done if we stick with protocols,” he said.
But the country wasn’t yet out of the woods as revised models currently predict that about 20% of the population, detected and undetected, were infected with Covid-19. This translated to about 12 million South Africans, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said on Monday.
He said the department was conducting a national seroprevalence study to unveil the status of national immunity.
“There may be a possibility that there’s some kind of underpinning immunity present in South Africans,” he said.