FOR SA letter to Health Minister re listing of COVID-19 as a category 2 notifiable medical condition

by Daniela Ellerbeck
5 May 2022

5 May 2022

Dear Honourable Minister,

RE:   LISTING OF COVID-19 AS CATEGORY 2 NOTIFIABLE MEDICAL CONDITION

The Department’s Health Regulations Amendment, 2022, refer. We note that these regulations are now in place indefinitely until amended by the Minister.

Clause 3 of the Health Regulations Amendment, 2022, amends Table 2 of Annexure A to the 2017 Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions (“the Existing Regulations”).

Due to this amendment, COVID-19 (irrespective of variant) is now listed as a category 2 notifiable medical condition (i.e. second-most severe, with category 1 being the most severe) and on a par with all variations of hepatitis, tuberculosis, leprosy, tetanus etc.

COVID-19 has numerous variants, some of which are too mild to be of any risk to be deemed of sufficient “public health importance” or to pose a sufficient “public health risk”.

COVID-19 is no longer deemed serious enough to be classified as a national disaster, scientific studies have found that over 80% of South Africans have immunity to it, and the rest of the world is moving away from regulating it at all.

In light of the above, kindly advise:

    1. What are the Department’s reasons for not differentiating between variants and listing COVID-19 in general, as opposed to only severe variants, as a notifiable medical condition?
    2. What are the Department’s reasons for listing COVID-19 as a category 2 notifiable medical condition?
    3. Why did the Department not put a time duration on the listing of COVID-19 in general as a notifiable medical condition in the Regulations?
    4. What the Department’s reasons are for the (specific) numerical limitations on gatherings?
    5. What are the Department’s reasons for requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for further restricting access to gatherings?
    6. What are the Department’s reasons for not amending Regulation 20 of the Existing Regulations, which makes contravention of the regulations a crime punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment?

We look forward to hearing from you soonest so that we can advise our constituency accordingly.

Sincerely,
Daniela Ellerbeck
Legal Advisor
Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA)

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Daniela Ellerbeck

Daniela Ellerbeck is an attorney of the High Court of South Africa. She serves as FOR SA’s Legal Advisor and Parliamentary Liaison. For her full bio, see https://forsa.org.za/about-us/our-team/

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