A salute to all our UCT colleagues on the frontlines

25 May 2020 | From Kgethi

Dear students and colleagues

I want to remind you of a special cohort of colleagues who are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis we are all facing at the University of Cape Town (UCT). We need to salute these individuals who are taking on many different, often difficult, tasks to protect our safety and health. I want to start by acknowledging those whose work is behind the scenes.

Because so many of us have not been on campus lately, we don’t see the hard work that our colleagues in the Properties and Services Department (P&S) are doing to ensure that we have a clean, well-maintained, secure campus to return to. All buildings frequented by UCT students and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 before lockdown were identified, closed immediately and disinfected. P&S staff will do an initial clean of campus in readiness for the return of staff and students, according to guidelines provided by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Cleaning staff will be trained on DHET procedures for the daily cleaning for COVID-19. (According to DHET, disinfection is not required if buildings have been unoccupied for longer than 14 days.)

Our colleagues in Campus Protection Services continue to patrol our buildings and watch over our campuses. Some Information and Communication Technology Services workers also come on site to do essential work. Every colleague who is working on campus is issued with appropriate personal protective equipment and is briefed on hygiene practices such as physical distancing and hand washing. I express gratitude to each of you for serving the UCT community in this way.

Last week, some of our final-year medical students returned to resume their clinical course work. They are supported by colleagues who have agreed to work on-site to provide essential services in the Health Science Faculty, residences and clinics. On behalf of the university, I extend special thanks to colleagues in the Department of Student Affairs, Student Housing, Student Wellness Services, P&S and in the faculty. They are making it possible for these medical students to complete their degree. I also thank the students for returning to UCT at this critical time, to help serve patients who are suffering from a range of medical conditions.

Of course, the real battle is taking place in clinics, hospitals and laboratories. COVID-19 is a threat not just to the human body but also to the healthcare system in general. This is true around the world, but especially in developing countries. UCT experts in relevant disciplines, such as public health, are working long hours with government to develop effective strategies for the province and the nation. Our researchers, their students and staff are investigating the virus and seeking ways to fight it.

In the Western Cape, UCT health sciences practitioners are dealing with an exhausting combination of stresses, including sourcing essential supplies and equipment. Their strain is physical, mental, emotional and managerial, as they are responsible for teams as well as their own work, dealing with many different kinds of health needs in addition to the threat of COVID-19. I hear reports of remarkable dedication, not only of senior colleagues, but also of interns. I am proud that our final-year medical students will be learning from them.

They deserve not only the heartfelt thanks of the UCT community, but also of the Western Cape and South Africa. Their battle has not reached its peak yet. They will need our encouragement and solidarity as we head into winter, when flu viruses have the best chance of attacking. Please join me in thanking them for their selfless service.

With kind regards,

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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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 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020. UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
UCT Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
UCT Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.


“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.

If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM website


“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

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.