27 August 2020

Staff support

Staff support

(Updated 31 August) Certain persons are at higher risk of severe disease if they contract COVID-19. This is confirmed by data from other countries as well as from data in the Western Cape. The COVID-19 Personal Health Risk assessment is used to assess your health status to determine if you are at higher risk.

(Updated 31 August) You will need to complete the COVID-19 Personal Health Risk assessment online. If you do not have access to the internet, you may call 021 650 0999. If you work in the Department of Student Affairs, call 021 650 5620 for assistance with completing the assessment.

(Updated 31 August) If you have any health risks, as specified in the assessment, you will be required to declare each risk. You will need to produce evidence relating to this risk from your health practitioner or your medical aid. (The medical aids are aware of this and should have already contacted you in this regard.) If you need assistance with this, and do not have access to the internet, please call 021 650 0999. If you work in the Department of Student Affairs, call 021 650 5620 for assistance with completing the assessment.

(Updated 31 August) If you declare a high risk on the assessment, the Occupational Health Service (OHS) at UCT will assess your risk, together with an assessment of the area where you are going to work, to identify the risk of exposure to the virus. The OHS will then decide if you are authorised to return to UCT or not. There may be conditions to your return. All health-related information will remain confidential and will only be available to the OHS.

(Updated 31 August) The assessment will be sent to your line manager, who will inform you whether authorisation has been granted or not. Authorisation will be received from the dean of the faculty or from the executive director of a PASS department.

(Updated 1 April) UCT Human Resources (HR) offers many forms of support, including the coordination of services provided by the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as described below. I urge you to read through the full list of counselling services available through UCT HR’s Health and Wellness web page.

Increased ICAS services

During this unprecedented time, we have asked ICAS to increase their capacity for managing the immediate needs of our staff members. While ICAS on-site counselling is suspended for now, the same counsellors are now available to conduct telephonic counselling. You can access these services by:

  • Calling toll-free for counselling over the phone: 080 111 39452
  • Sending a please-call-me to: *134*905#
  • Emailing

ICAS recently launched a new online app, ICAS On-the-Go, which allows you to chat live with an ICAS counsellor. The app gives you and your family access to a 24/7/365 Employee Wellness Programme and information to address some of your health and wellness needs.

Connect to ICAS On-the-Go. The code for UCT staff is UNI003.

SADAG services

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group, and its services are available to UCT staff members. SADAG offers free telephonic counselling for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

SADAG offers excellent podcasts that provide practical tips to cope in a time of anxiety.

Should you require their counselling services, please contact SADAG by:

  • calling 0800 171 171 (toll-free from a Telkom line 24 hours a day)
  • sending an SMS to 31393 to request a call back
  • emailing for a counsellor to call you back
  • visiting the SADAG website for very useful information about how to cope with the daily stresses of working during the national lockdown
  • visiting the SADAG Facebook page to access the Daily Expert Q&A from 13:00 to 14:00

One suggestion from SADAG is to reduce the time that staff and their families spend watching or listening to media coverage. SADAG suggests only following reliable resources such as:


Staff in pay classes 2 to 6 are covered by Kaelo, which is promoting health and wellness through the Kaelo Cares page. Although the onsite UCT clinic is closed during lockdown, Kaelo is providing services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To access these services, Kaelo members can phone their Kaelo primary healthcare network doctors.

Discovery Health

Staff in pay classes 7 and above as well as academic staff who are Discovery Health members can access the medical aid provider’s services.

(Updated 20 July) Staff and line managers may consider the following methods to validate the need for the 10-day period of self-isolation that is now advised by the Western Cape Department of Health:

1. Medical certificate from doctor / general practitioner

Staff members may call their doctors for a consultation via telephone. The doctor will send a medication prescription (if needed), and instructions in the medical certificate to self-isolate, with the date that the staff member is considered fit/safe to return to work. Staff members should ask their doctors to send this information via WhatsApp or email. The staff member concerned must forward the medical certificate to his/her line manager and Human Resources / Organisational Health or the Organisantional Health Clinic.

2. Medical aid virtual doctor services

Many medical aids enable their members to access virtual consultations with network doctors. Staff should check on the services available from their medical aid providers:

3. COVID-19 Symptom Checker

This online Western Cape Government Symptom Checker can be accessed with a smartphone, laptop or PC and the result can be downloaded as a PDF. The instruction to self-isolate has a date and time stamp and must be sent to your line manager and Human Resources / Organisational Health at UCT, as proof of the instruction to self-isolate. 

4. Living with a COVID-19 positive case

If you are a UCT staff member living with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please send the following to your Line Manager and Human Resources /Organisational Health:

  • the COVID-19 result/diagnosis
  • the results from the online Western Cape Government COVID-19 Symptom Checker instructing you to self-isolate.

(Updated 26 August) Staff members will be responsible for cleaning their own work surfaces, such as desks, workstations, computer keyboards, monitors, phones, shared equipment and crockery and cutlery. They will also be responsible for emptying office bins into centrally located wheelie bins. The cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas should be used. Where possible, disposable wipes will be provided.

Campus Cleaning Services (CCS) will be responsible for wiping down handles on doors, windows and rails in common areas, as well as for cleaning toilets, reception and common areas and lifts. They will also clean kitchen counters and floors and vacuum offices weekly and common areas as required.

Labs and workshops also need to be self-cleaned. Should you require any campus cleaning services, please provide CCS with the risk assessment of the lab or workshop. This will be reviewed by Occupational Health and Safety to determine whether the cleaners may enter the lab and, if so, under what conditions.

Please contact CCS to make arrangements for cleaning if there is a COVID-19 positive case in your office.

Contact details for cleaning team:

Paulina Johnson
063 058 3496

Mogamat Benjamin
083 775 6016

Marlin Arendorff
079 602 0246

(Updated 27 April) The Office for Inclusivity and Change will host online survivor support groups for staff and students who have experienced sexual and domestic violence. The sessions will be held every Tuesday from 17:30 to 19:30 on the Microsoft Teams platform. The online support groups will be a semi-structured psychosocial educational group to assist survivors in coping with their trauma. For more information and to join the online sessions, please email the Survivor Support Case Officer and Counsellor at

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