Dear students and colleagues
I wish to thank the thousands of staff and students that are adhering to all the health and safety regulations and guidelines related to COVID-19. All of you are helping to keep each other and the campus safe while continuing to work so hard to ensure we reach our goals as an institution.
As COVID-19 wears on, it may be tempting to drop your guard. But the virus is as infectious and dangerous as it was seven months ago, when lockdown began. I urge you all to continue keeping yourselves and those around you safe.
We are seeing news reports of superspreader events in South Africa and other countries that are now experiencing a second wave of COVID-19. In his speech to the nation on 11 November, President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned areas of concern around the country, with a focus on the rise of cases in the Eastern Cape. As he pointed out, it might be tempting, as the holiday season approaches, to attend more events and to be with friends and family. But it is critical that we limit our engagements as much as we can and that, when we do gather in small groups, we ensure that we do all we can to stay safe.
As President Ramaphosa said: “What we are witnessing in the Eastern Cape should be a wake-up call to all of us, that we cannot relax and we cannot be complacent. But we can avoid a second wave if we each play our part, if we remember what we need to do to keep ourselves and others safe.” It is for this reason that the national state of disaster has been extended to 15 December.
Apart from protecting others, it is also in your own interests to avoid crowded, confined and enclosed spaces and places that do not allow space for social distancing.
We each also have a responsibility to avoid putting those around us at risk. If I test positive, for instance, my family and anyone I have had contact with will have to go into quarantine and may not be able to go to work, attend a class or take an exam.
I am very grateful for everything you are doing to protect yourself and others during this time. I know it is not always easy, but it is essential to continue to adapt to this new reality.
Please continue to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from other people, wash and sanitise your hands frequently and wear a mask in public. These three steps need to become like second nature.
Take good care of yourselves, and those around you, for the sake of us all.
With best wishes
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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