PODCAST | The Story: State of disaster lifted, but is govt using National Health Act to hold onto powers

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  • The period for submissions for public comments on the draft health regulations closes on 16 April.
  • Once considered, the draft regulations will be finalised and promulgated. 
  • Transitional provisions will remain in place for 30 days after the national state of disaster's termination.

After more than 700 days, President Cyril Ramaphosa lifted the country's state of disaster at midnight on Monday.

But, there's been criticism of proposed regulations under the National Health Act that some argue will effectively allow the government to hold onto unprecedented emergency powers - including quarantining citizens.

This week on The Story, we talk to News24 health journalist Nelisiwe Msomi and political analyst Sanusha Naidoo to find out what lifting the national state of disaster will mean for you. And whether we should be worried about the draft health regulations currently under consideration.

Nsomi says the new health regulations currently open for public comment are "our localised way of managing the virus, so its basically how we are turning the pandemic into an epidemic and how these regulations are going to be, how we manage the virus in a very localised way in a manner that speaks to our conditions as South Africans". 

She says the fifth wave of Covid-19 infections is expected at the end of April or early May and will be "the start of our winter wave", but it's not likely to be as severe as previous waves because of "quite a high population immunity".

Political analyst Sanusha Naidu says the question of whether government is simply shifting its power under the guise of the National Health Act is a "controversial and sensitive" debate.

"The first thing that we have to be very careful of is what does the National Health Act and the rules under it mean for our personal liberties. One of the big challenges of how it's framed is whether or not we have to think about our own medical responsibility or does the state still need to think about those medical responsibilities."


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