Health minister Joe Phaahla has allayed fears the proposed Covid-19 regulations will continue indefinitely, saying they will be flexible and amended as the behaviour of the virus, and the government’s response to it, changes.
Phaahla said the proposed regulations are not completely new and are much the same as those that have been in place since 2017. The deadline for public comment on the regulations has been extended to April 24
He was speaking at a media briefing last week on the regulations relating to surveillance and the control of notifiable medical conditions.
The regulations will replace the national state of disaster which was used to manage Covid-19 since March 2020.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lifting of the state of disaster earlier this month.“These health regulations are not new, they were promulgated in 2017, however they do not make provisions for the management of the notifiable medical conditions of a Covid-19 pandemic magnitude which has never been experienced before”, said Phaahla.
“There is a misconception that these are completely new regulations. There have been some measured amendments in some cases, but in many cases, it is basically an amendment of regulations that have actually been in existence since 2017,” said the minister.
Phaahla also assured the public the regulations are not designed to control the daily lives of South Africans.
“There is no desire from myself and the team from [the department of] health to want to continue to control people’s lives unnecessarily. This is purely making sure that we do have instruments through which this threat [is managed]. Our advice is that it will not be a good direction to simply stop the regulations,” said Phaahla.
Political parties including the DA and ActionSA, lobby group AfriForum and citizen network group Dear SA are among external parties that have opposed the proposed regulations on the basis that they are unconstitutional and will subject South Africans to a never-ending state of disaster.