Dear students and colleagues
This campus announcement aims to inform the University of Cape Town (UCT) community about recent developments relating to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
1. National lockdown
As part of efforts to minimise the spread of COVID-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown which began at midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020, and will end on Thursday, 16 April 2020. Due to the lockdown, all academic activities, including research on campus, have ceased. All students – including those who had received prior approval to stay – were requested to vacate UCT premises. UCT put measures in place for students who required assistance with travel arrangements.
2. Updates by the UCT leadership
Following the commencement of the lockdown, members of the UCT leadership have been writing to the university community to provide updates relevant to their portfolios.
The Chief Operating Officer, Dr Reno Morar, outlined UCT’s operational plan during the lockdown. Only essential staff, such as Information and Communication Technology Services, is operating on campus according to usual operating procedure. Campus Protection Services is running on skeleton staff and will maintain perimeter security only.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Associate Professor Lis Lange, indicated that following sector consultations, universities have agreed that there will be a sector-wide date for the reopening of academic activities on 20 April. Consultation on the assessment framework for UCT’s remote teaching and learning is ongoing.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation, Professor Loretta Feris, has emphasised that during this heightened period of stress and anxiety, UCT will continue to support students through, among others, Student Wellness Services, the Office for Inclusivity and Change, and the Student Financial Aid office.
3. UCT confirms fifth and sixth cases
The university confirmed a fifth positive case of COVID-19 on Friday, 27 March 2020.
All individuals who tested positive immediately went into self-isolation for 14 days, and all their identified contacts went into quarantine as soon as they were traced.
Subsequent to this UCT was advised of another student testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, 29 March 2020 in Eswatini. The student is receiving medical support and identified contacts were traced and advised to go into quarantine.
Going forward, UCT will provide updates on confirmed cases in the university community on a weekly basis.
4. UCT’s COVID-19 feature page
Find all the latest information from UCT about COVID-19 and what the university is doing to support the fight against the pandemic. The page is regularly updated with the latest critical information.
Staff are encouraged to add the COVID-19 banner to their email signatures.
5. HSRC COVID-19 public survey
The Human Sciences Research Council launched a public survey on Friday, 27 March. The survey aims to better understand what the public knows about COVID-19, the state of readiness to deal with this global pandemic and how they feel about it. It is expected to run for three to four weeks, following which the results will be made available to identified stakeholders, the media and community members.
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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 and implement a national lockdown from 26 March. The intention of these drastic measures is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected. Although South Africa has recently reached a peak of COVID-19 infections, the country is expecting a surge in positive cases in August.
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.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and evolves, civil society groups are responding to growing and diversifying needs – just when access to resources is becoming more insecure, writes UCT’s Prof Ralph Hamann.03 Jul 2020 - 6 min read Republished
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.