The importance of confidentiality in managing reported cases of COVID-19

22 March 2020 | Dr Reno Morar, COO
 

Dear colleagues and students

I write on the matter of the confidentiality as it relates to reported cases of COVID-19 at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

You will be aware that we have confirmed three cases of COVID-19 at our institution as of Sunday, 22 March.

In all cases, our colleagues immediately self-isolated and informed their respective departments. The Provincial Department of Health began immediate contact tracing in all three cases and identified people that were in close contact with our colleagues. Those individuals are also now quarantined for two weeks. We are continuing to monitor the situation.

The experience of the three cases has taught us some valuable lessons and I am therefore drawing your attention to the fact that we have to ensure confidentiality at all times.

As the Vice-Chancellor expressed in her latest VC Desk, confidentiality is important when we are dealing with the medical conditions of our staff and students. Breaking that confidentiality is not acceptable for healthcare professionals (which includes health scientists) as it is against their ethical codes. We must in all reported cases (via our email messages, on social media, or in conversations) ensure that we maintain confidentiality. Hence heads of departments and everyone else dealing with a case must be circumspect about sharing information that could identify people and their medical status.

I am asking that you note and share this information with colleagues and fellow students to ensure that the need for confidentiality is upheld.

Sincerely

Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer


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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.

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Campus communications


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
UCT Human Resources and COVID-19 16:05, 19 March 2020
UCT confirms second COVID-19 case 09:15, 19 March 2020
Update on UCT COVID-19 response 13:50, 11 March 2020
Update on COVID-19 17:37, 6 March 2020

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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.


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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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