The public has until Sunday, 24 April, to submit their comments on the Health Regulations meant to manage COVID-19 and other notifiable conditions outside of the National State of Disaster.
This follows requests and concerns from a number of stakeholders that a 30-day period was not sufficient for them to scrutinise and interact with all sets of proposed regulations in order to develop substantial representations.
After considering the request, the Health Department took a decision to extend the deadline by an additional eight days to afford all those who could not meet the original deadline an opportunity to finalise their views and representations.
“[Health] Minister Joe Phaahla urges interested individuals and organisations to use the extended window period for public comments on the health regulations meant to manage COVID-19 and other notifiable conditions outside the Disaster Management Act, which has helped to save lives and livelihoods,” the Health Department said in a recent statement.
The Minister has also expressed his gratitude to all organisations and individuals who found time to read the regulations, and share their valuable comments and representations on how the country can better manage COVID-19 and other notifiable conditions, without invoking interventions such as the National State of Disaster.
Phaahla reiterated the global view that “COVID-19 remains amongst us” as a pandemic and there continues to be a need for everyone to protect themselves through non-pharmaceutical means and “vaccination as the only weapon against COVID-19”.
The Minister has assured Parliamentarians and the public at large that government continues to have good intentions in the execution of its Constitutional mandate to protect the lives of South Africans.
“The introduction of the amendments to the existing Health Regulations is to ensure this is done logically and rationally.
“These Health Regulations are not new. They were promulgated in 2017. However, they do not make provision for the management of notifiable medical conditions [the magnitude of] COVID-19, which has never been experienced before,” Phaahla said.
The department has also announced further communication methods in which the public can send their comments. These include a WhatsApp number – 0600 123456 and email address: email@example.com.
However, the public can still use the current email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, the department has also acknowledged a technical glitch in which a few emails were erroneously deleted during the transfer of emails from an individual inbox into an open source. The affected emails were retrieved and included into a pool of comments for consideration and auditing purposes.
The department has assured everyone that all comments received will be accounted for, including the duplications are being recorded and considered.