COVID-19: Update on mass gatherings, graduation and travel

13 March 2020 | From Kgethi

Dear students and colleagues

In line with national and international information, the University of Cape Town (UCT) executive is taking the threat of the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) very seriously. UCT’s COVID-19 Coordinating Committee (CCC) in particular has been monitoring reports from health agencies such as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) about the need for social distancing and limiting mass gatherings. With these reports in mind, we have been:

  • reviewing plans for all large events and mass gatherings, whether hosted by UCT or by external service providers
  • reassessing travel and events, such as conferences and symposiums
  • considering different ways to continue teaching and learning at UCT while limiting the risk of spreading infection.

With this in mind, the university leadership has taken the decision to postpone the installation of our chancellor on Monday, 16 March, and to suspend the March graduation ceremonies, which were scheduled to start on Thursday, 19 March. Meanwhile, the Registrar’s Office will send details to graduands about how they can receive their graduation certificates.

As deeply important as these events are for the campus community, it is much more important that we take responsible decisions that will help to avoid the spread of COVID-19. We have not taken this decision lightly. We understand the disappointment this will create, and that it disrupts the plans of many people who were looking forward to celebrating these important occasions.

In making this decision, we considered not only the risk of bringing thousands of people into close contact in Sarah Baartman Hall, but also the risk faced by those travelling to Cape Town for these events. We believe it is the responsible decision to protect the campus community and to limit the possibility of the spread of the virus into the general population.

The university leadership has also agreed to cancel or postpone any UCT-related conferences and events until the end of June 2020. We will review this decision if necessary. We are also engaging with external service providers and event organisers about scheduled events for our campus and considering alternative options.

In line with a number of other organisations, we have made the decision to suspend the approval of any university-related international travel until the end of June 2020.

The CCC and the executive are meeting frequently to discuss how UCT can best respond to the pandemic while we continue with the academic programme. We are committed to the success of our students as well as to the health and well-being of all community members. We are considering different ways that we can continue teaching and learning at UCT while limiting the risk of spreading infection. We expect to make an announcement next week about how we will proceed with the academic project during this vulnerable time for our nation’s health.

We are very aware of the concerns of many of you about the possibility of infection through contact with other people in residences, libraries, lecture halls and other places on campus. I urge each of you to continue to follow the hygiene precautions that have been provided in previous communications:

  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • regularly use an alcohol-based (≥60% alcohol) hand sanitiser
  • cover your mouth (using a tissue or your elbow) when coughing or sneezing
  • place used tissues directly into the bin, and wash your hands immediately afterwards
  • increasingly clean all surfaces that are frequently touched using normal cleaning products
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • stay at home if you feel sick and contact your doctor or the Student Wellness Service.

Please regularly check the UCT Coronavirus Disease 2019 web page, which is being updated on a daily basis. Please also note these important telephone numbers:

  • NICD hotline 0800 029 999
  • Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) 0800 111 3945 (a toll-free line available to UCT staff and their family members 24 hours a day)
  • UCT Student Wellness Service 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours)
  • UCT staff help line 021 650 5685.

One of the most important phrases used by the World Health Organization in advising the public on how to respond to the pandemic is: “Be Kind.” There have been some reports about discriminatory behaviour, including fake news on social media about individuals being infected with the virus and cruel jokes directed at various groups identified as potential carriers of COVID-19. The fact is, we are all potential carriers if we come into contact with the virus.

Compassion and kindness are as essential as good hygiene in this global crisis.

I encourage you to make UCT a place where these three practices all thrive.

Sincerely

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
Vice-Chancellor


Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.


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UCT’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March.

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.

Frequently asked questions

 

Daily updates


Friday, 16 October 10:05, 16 October 2020
Wednesday, 14 October 12:50, 14 October 2020
Tuesday, 22 September 14:10, 22 September 2020
Friday, 11 September 10:05, 11 September 2020
Monday, 31 August 12:20, 31 August 2020
Wednesday, 12 August 10:20, 12 August 2020
Friday, 7 August 11:24, 7 August 2020
Thursday, 6 August 18:26, 6 August 2020
Monday, 27 July 14:00, 27 July 2020
Wednesday, 15 July 09:30, 15 July 2020
Monday, 13 July 14:25, 13 July 2020
Monday, 6 July 16:20, 6 July 2020
Thursday, 25 June 10:15, 25 June 2020
Tuesday, 23 June 12:30, 23 June 2020
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Wednesday, 17 June 10:45, 17 June 2020
Tuesday, 2 June 12:20, 2 June 2020
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Monday, 25 May 14:00, 25 May 2020
Thursday, 21 May 12:00, 21 May 2020
Wednesday, 6 May 10:00, 6 May 2020
Tuesday, 5 May 17:05, 5 May 2020
Thursday, 30 April 17:10, 30 April 2020
Tuesday, 28 April 10:30, 28 April 2020
Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
Thursday, 23 April 17:00, 23 April 2020
Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
Monday, 20 April 17:45, 20 April 2020
Friday, 17 April 12:30, 17 April 2020
Thursday, 16 April 09:45, 16 April 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
Thursday, 9 April 09:00, 9 April 2020
Wednesday, 8 April 15:40, 8 April 2020
Wednesday, 1 April 15:50, 1 April 2020
Friday, 27 March 11:40, 27 March 2020
Thursday, 26 March 18:30, 26 March 2020
Tuesday, 24 March 15:40, 24 March 2020
Monday, 23 March 15:40, 23 March 2020
Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
Tuesday, 17 March 12:50, 17 March 2020
Monday, 16 March 17:15, 16 March 2020

Campus communications


Online staff assembly and other updates 15:09, 30 September 2020
Fee adjustments and other updates 15:21, 16 September 2020
Call for proposals: TLC2020 10:15, 26 August 2020
SAULM survey and other updates 15:30, 5 August 2020
COVID-19 cases and other updates 15:26, 5 August 2020
New UCT Council and other updates 15:12, 15 July 2020
Upcoming UCT virtual events 09:30, 15 July 2020
Pre-paid data for UCT students 14:25, 22 April 2020
Update for postgraduate students 12:55, 20 April 2020

Resources

Video messages from the Department of Medicine

Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19

The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.


To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.

Useful information from UCT

External resources


News and opinions


Statements and media releases


Media releases



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Statements from Government



 
 

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.

 

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