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South Africa is dialing back COVID-19 restrictions after the Omicron variant – which is far more mild than other strains – has peaked sooner than expected.

On Friday, the government announced that contacts of Covid-positive cases that they will no longer need to test or self-isolate if they aren’t showing symptoms. Those who develop mild symptoms will be required to isolate for eight days, while anyone with severe symptoms will need to isolate for 10 days, according to the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Ministry is ending quarantine at specialized facilities outside the home, and will be scrapping contact tracing efforts with the exception of cluster outbreaks, according to DW.

The changes were “based on advice from our scientists that it [isolation] is not really having an impact anymore,” per Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo in a statement to local broadcaster SABC.

The decision comes as some researchers believe cases of the highly-transmissible omicron variant may have peaked in South Africa, where it first emerged last month.

Also on Friday, South Africa began offering booster shots to the general public for the first time.

Both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer shots have been authorized as boosters by the country’s health regulator.

So far, only J&J booster shots have been available for health workers. Pfizer booster shots will be available in early January. -DW

As Summit News noted last week, South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said that only 1.7% of COVID cases in the current Omicron wave are being hospitalized, compared to 19% in the previous wave and that the vast majority of cases are “fairly mild.”

Meanwhile residents across ‘developed’ nations can look forward to another round of ‘one-virus-fits-all’ lockdowns.

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