Dear colleagues and students
Following previous communications, I am aware that the University of Cape Town (UCT) community – like all people – will be concerned about the Minister of Health’s announcement on South Africa’s first confirmed case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The UCT executive urges all students and staff to remain calm and continue to practise infection prevention control measures, such as good personal hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
The National Department of Health and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases are making use of surveillance systems with screening equipment that is used globally. The Western Cape Department of Health pronounced its state of readiness for a potential case in this province earlier this week, and a public hotline (08600 029 999) has been established.
The current indicators of a possible COVID-19 case include one or more of the following symptoms:
Possible risk factors include having recently travelled to a country with ongoing community transmission, exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or having worked in a healthcare facility that houses COVID-19 patients. The particularly high-risk countries include China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Hong Kong. The number of cases in Germany, France, Japan, Spain and the United States have shown marked increases in recent days.
The university has set up a UCT business continuity management coordinating committee – the COVID-19 Coordinating Committee (CCC) – which is responsible for responding to the outbreak. The committee is chaired by UCT’s chief operating officer, Dr Reno Morar. It is tasked with continued close monitoring of any developments around COVID-19 and is working in partnership with the Department of Health, the NICD, the Western Cape Department of Health, and other spheres and agencies of government. The committee will update the UCT community regularly.
While UCT has not implemented any general travel restrictions for students and staff, we draw attention to the following:
We encourage all students, staff and visitors to take the following precautions against all pathogens:
If you are experiencing symptoms and have recently travelled, please report to your nearest hospital and contact the NICD on 0800 029 999. Please also self-isolate.
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates.
If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.
Professor Loretta Feris
Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.
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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March. This was followed by the implementation of a national lockdown, which has been in effect since midnight on 26 March and is currently scheduled until 16 April. The intention of this drastic measure is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.