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.
Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer
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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 has recently been extended to 30 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.
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.
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
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.