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School contact sports suspended due to rise in Covid-19 cases, cluster outbreaks

Close contact sporting activities in schools, including at preparatory level, were on Wednesday suspended with immediate effect until cluster outbreaks of Covid-19 had been contained, the department of basic education announced.

The department said via a statement that sports activity-related Covid-19 outbreaks during the last week of the first term had been reported in Gauteng, and that similar outbreaks had been gradually increasing in the second term, which led to the decision.  

“It is evident that despite following the protocols as guided by the directions on extramural activities and standard operating procedure on the prevention, containment and management of Covid-19 in schools, contact sports events still contribute to the spread of Covid-19,” reads the statement. 

However, non-contact sports are allowed to continue if all health protocols are adhered to, and provided that there is no physical contact between participants. 

According to the department, contact sporting activities in schools will remain suspended until cluster outbreaks are contained and no further cases reported. This would also apply at preparatory school level.  

The department said it would monitor the situation.

South Africa reported an increase of 2 355 Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, 18 May, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to more than 1.6-million since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

To date, the country has vaccinated just less than 40 000 people with the two-shot Pfizer vaccine under phase 2 of the nationwide vaccination roll-out programme that started on Monday 17 May. The Sisonke programme, which saw healthcare workers receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, administered 479 768 shots, bringing the total number of people vaccinated across the country to 519 139 as of Wednesday morning. 

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

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